A Documentary Theory of States and Their Existence as Quasi-Abstract Entities

Edward Heath Robinson
Geopolitics 2014 00: pp. 1–29
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documentality theory of states

This article is concerned with the existence of states as a matter of fact, and it approaches that subject within the context of the ontology of social reality as a whole. It argues, first, that states do not have a place in the traditional Platonist duality of the concrete and the abstract. Second, that states belong to a third category – the quasi-abstract – that has received philosophical attention with a recently emerging theory of documentality. Documentality, derived from Austin’s theory of performative utterances, claims that documents acts can bring quasi-abstract objects, such as states into being. Third and finally, it argues that the existence of quasi-abstract states should not be rejected on the basis of the Principle of Parsimony, because geopolitical theories that recognize the existence of quasi-abstract states will have greater explanatory power than theories that deny their existence.

The Aspatial Economics of Virtual Worlds

Edward Heath Robinson
The Journal of Virtual Worlds 2014 7(1): pp. 1–21
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Aspatial_Economics

This article compares and contrasts the economic geography of the physical world with that of virtual worlds, with an analytical focus on the spatial (and aspatial) characteristics of Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo II (released in 2000) and its massively multiplayer online roleplaying game World of Warcraft (released in 2004). The purpose of this article is to show that although virtual worlds are not immune to aspatial economic laws, geographic constraints on economic interaction in virtual worlds are optional inclusions. Virtual world designers can manage the inclusion, disinclusion, and degree of emphasis on space and place in order to carefully craft a specific user experience. Hence, even though virtual worlds may provide the illusion of operating in a spatially bounded environment, the underlying mechanics of the world may not have spatial constraints. Nevertheless, the article concludes that there still remains a role for geographic analysis in virtual worlds, especially because, though space may be deemphasized, virtual world designers still may go to great effort to emphasize place to create the users’ experiences. Further, the study of the economics of virtual worlds may provide insight into possible future economic situations of the physical world as increasingly more physical goods become digital.

The Distinction Between State and Government

Edward Heath Robinson
The Geography Compass 2013 7(8): pp. 556-566
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State_GovernmentThe terms “state” and “government” are often used interchangeably in political discourse, but they can also refer to very different entities. In political geography, a distinction between the two is often not made, or made weakly. Thus, this article reviews how these terms have been used in political geography and across allied disciplines, especially in international law. Political geographers commonly seem to draw from the anthropological and sociological uses of the terms, but the distinction between state and government is arguably most developed in international legal scholarship. This article argues that political geography would gain by adopting a distinction between state and government as it is articulated in international legal scholarship. Drawing from that literature, this article recommends that states be contrasted with governments in the following way: states are juridical entities of the international legal system; governments are the exclusive legally coercive organizations for making and enforcing certain group decisions. Arguably, ambiguity regarding the referents of these terms has hindered the development of state theory and even made it unclear what the “theory of the state” is supposed to explain. Therefore, this article concludes with a call for geographers to be just as cognizant of the distinction between state and government as they traditionally have been of the distinction between state and nation.

Reexamining Fiat, Bona Fide and Force Dynamic Boundaries for Geopolitical Entities and their Placement in DOLCE

Edward Heath Robinson
Applied Ontology 2012 7: pp. 93–108
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Boundaries

The purpose of this article is to reexamine the ontology of geopolitical boundaries so that they can be better represented in ontologies designed for the semantic web. Previous work on this subject has divided geopolitical boundaries into fiat, bona fide, and force dynamic categories. This article challenges the existence of bona fide geopolitical boundaries on the basis that many of them lie skew to physical discontinuities on the earth, maritime territorial claims do not follow physical discontinuities, and geopolitical boundaries are three-dimensional, not two-dimensional objects. This also allows for a necessary ontological distinction to be made between the geopolitical boundaries and their physical markers. This analysis is used to determine the placement of geopolitical boundaries, territory, states, and nations in the Descriptive Ontology for Linguistic and Cognitive Engineering (DOLCE). DOLCE has a cognitive bias making it particularly suitable for formulating an ontology of mind-dependent geopolitical entities. However, rather than distinguishing between the physical and nonphysical based on whether or not the entity in question has direct spatial qualities, this article puts forward that a distinction needs to be made based on whether or not an entity in question is made of matter. A material/immaterial distinction may be more intuitive for an ontology of “common sense”.

A Theory of Social Agentivity and its Integration into the Descriptive Ontology for Linguistic and Cognitive Engineering

Edward Heath Robinson
International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems 2011 7(4): pp. 62–86
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Social_AgentivityThe agentivity of social entities has posed problems for ontologies of social phenomena, especially in the Descriptive Ontology for Linguistic and Cognitive Engineering (DOLCE) designed for use in the semantic web. This article elucidates a theory by which physical and social objects can take action, but that also recognizes the different ways in which they act. It introduces the “carry” relationship, through which social actions can occur when a physical action is taken in the correct circumstances. For example, the physical action of a wave of a hand may carry the social action of saying hello when entering a room. This article shows how a system can simultaneously and in a noncontradictory manner handle statements and queries in which both nonphysical social agents and physical agents take action by the carry relationship and the use of representatives. A revision of DOLCE’s taxonomic structure of perdurants is also proposed. This revision divides perdurants into physical and nonphysical varieties at the same ontological level at which endurants are so divided.

The Involuntary Extinction of States: An Examination of the Destruction of States though the Application of Military Force by Foreign Powers since the Second World War

Edward Heath Robinson
The Journal of Military Geography 2011 1: pp. 17–29
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Extinction

Political theorists often consider how states are created, but how they come to be extinguished is considered far less often. The purpose of this paper is to examine under what circumstances a state can be extinguished through the application of military force by another state. Five case studies since World War II are used in this analysis: 1) the successful extinction of Hyderabad by India c. 1948–1949, 2) the successful extinction of the Republic of Vietnam in 1976 following the fall of Saigon in 1975, 3) the attempted destruction of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, 4) the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, and 5) the 2003 invasion of Iraq, both led by the United States. Cases 4 and 5 are included because neither state was extinguished despite military defeat and occupation by foreign powers. Why not? Drawing from the case studies, several factors that might contribute to the extinction of a state are identified and explored: the defeat of its conventional military forces, the use of proxy forces in the conflict, the removal of the government, the presence of insurgent forces, the continuation of hostilities, the intentions of the aggressor state, and the recognition of the extinction by the international community.

An Ontological Analysis of States: Organizations vs. Legal Persons

Edward Heath Robinson
Applied Ontology 2010 5: pp. 109–125
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Legal_PersonsThe purpose of this paper is to argue states are not organizations, but rather the objective legal persons of international law. The ontological similarities and differences between states and organizations are examined, but, by drawing upon literature in political geography and international law, ultimately shows that states cannot be organizations based in large part on the fact that states can survive the destruction of their organizational structures. Bottazzi and Ferrario’s DOLCE-based ontology of organizations is of specific interest because it provides “TheState of Italy” as an example of an organization that fits their ontological structure. This claim is evaluated and challenged. It is argued that while a state’s government may be an organization, the state must be an entity independent from its government or broader socio-political and economic structure. It is argued that when a certain set of conditions is satisfied, a new non-physical legal person is brought into being that is independent of any existing entity. Finally, placement of the state as a legal person within the DOLCE ontology is considered, especially with the inclusion of Bottazzi and Ferrario’s ontology of organizations.

Research on the Political Geography of the South, 1980 – 2005

Gerald R. Webster, Jerrod Bowman, Daniel McGowin, and Heath Robinson
The Southeastern Geographer 2007 47(1): pp. 1–12
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The American South has undResearch_Southergone tremendous change in the past quarter century. No where is this change more apparent than on the region’s political landscape. Today minority voters are participating at all levels in the South’s political processes. The region has also continued its movement from the Democratic to Republican parties. Have these changes received adequate attention in the political geography literature? This paper attempts to identify all articles, book chapters and books on the political geography of the South published in the past quarter century. It finds that there has been a significant increase in the rate of published work on the region’s changing political landscape, and that these efforts have appeared in a wide array of outlets. The paper concludes by identifying areas in which additional work would be helpful to fully understanding the South’s political landscape.