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.