Fiat and Bona Fide Boundaries
Smith (Barry) & Varzi (Achille)
Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Mar., 2000), pp. 401-420
Paper - Abstract

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Authors’ Abstract

  1. There is a basic distinction, in the realm of spatial boundaries, between bona fide boundaries on the one hand, and fiat boundaries on the other. The former are just the physical boundaries of old. The latter are exemplified especially by boundaries induced through human demarcation, for example, in the geographic domain.
  2. The classical metaphysical problems connected with the notions of adjacency, contact, separation, and division can be resolved in an intuitive way by recognizing this two-sorted ontology of boundaries. Bona fide boundaries yield a notion of contact that is effectively modeled by classical topology; the analogue of contact involving fiat boundaries calls, however, for a different account, based on the intuition that fiat boundaries do not support the open/closed distinction on which classical topology is based. In the presence of this two-sorted ontology it then transpires that mereotopology - typology erected on a mereological basis - is more than a trivial formal variant of classical point-set topology.

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