Fiat and bona fide Boundaries: Towards an ontology of spatially extended objects

  • Barry Smith
  • Achille C. Varzi
Boundaries and Gradations
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1329)


Human cognitive acts are directed towards objects extended in space of a wide range of different types. What follows is a new proposal for bringing order into this typological clutter. The theory of spatially extended objects should make room not only for the objects of physics but also for objects at higher levels, including the objects of geography and of related disciplines. It should leave room for different types of boundaries, including both the bona fide boundaries which we find in the physical world and the fiat (or human-demarcation-induced) boundaries with which much of geography has to deal. Two distinct axiomatic theories of boundaries are accordingly presented, and the need for both is examined in some detail. The resultant dual framework is shown to have application above all for our understanding of issues involving contact, division, and separation, issues which have posed serious difficulties for the ontological theories of boundaries that have been proposed hitherto.


Formal Ontology Fiat Object Qualitative Differentiation Extensional Mereology Fiat Boundary 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Smith
    • 1
  • Achille C. Varzi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Center for Cognitive ScienceState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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