Parts, places, and perspectives : a theory of spatial relations based an mereotopology and convexity


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Parts, places, and perspectives : a theory of spatial relations based an mereotopology and convexity
Haemmerli M.
Esfeld M.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres
Faculté des lettresUniversité de LausanneCH-1015 Lausanne
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This thesis suggests to carry on the philosophical work begun in Casati's and Varzi's seminal book Parts and Places, by extending their general reflections on the basic formal structure of spatial representation beyond mereotopology and absolute location to the question of perspectives and perspective-dependent spatial relations. We show how, on the basis of a conceptual analysis of such notions as perspective and direction, a mereotopological theory with convexity can express perspectival spatial relations in a strictly qualitative framework.
We start by introducing a particular mereotopological theory, AKGEMT, and argue that it constitutes an adequate core for a theory of spatial relations. Two features of AKGEMT are of particular importance: AKGEMT is an extensional mereotopology, implying that sameness of proper parts is a sufficient and necessary condition for identity, and it allows for (lower- dimensional) boundary elements in its domain of quantification. We then discuss an extension of AKGEMT, AKGEMTS, which results from the addition of a binary segment operator whose interpretation is that of a straight line segment between mereotopological points. Based on existing axiom systems in standard point-set topology, we propose an axiomatic characterisation of the segment operator and show that it is strong enough to sustain complex properties of a convexity predicate and a convex hull operator. We compare our segment-based characterisation of the convex hull to Cohn et al.'s axioms for the convex hull operator, arguing that our notion of convexity is significantly stronger. The discussion of AKGEMTS defines the background theory of spatial representation on which the developments in the second part of this thesis are built.
The second part deals with perspectival spatial relations in two-dimensional space, i.e., such relations as those expressed by 'in front of, 'behind', 'to the left/right of, etc., and develops a qualitative formalism for perspectival relations within the framework of AKGEMTS. Two main claims are defended in part 2: That perspectival relations in two-dimensional space are four- place relations of the kind R(x, y, z, w), to be read as x is i?-related to y as z looks at w; and that these four-place structures can be satisfactorily expressed within the qualitative theory AKGEMTS.
To defend these two claims, we start by arguing for a unified account of perspectival relations, thus rejecting the traditional distinction between 'relative' and 'intrinsic' perspectival relations. We present a formal theory of perspectival relations in the framework of AKGEMTS, deploying the idea that perspectival relations in two-dimensional space are four-place relations, having a locational and a perspectival part and show how this four-place structure leads to a unified framework of perspectival relations. Finally, we present a philosophical motivation to the idea that perspectival relations are four-place, cashing out the thesis that perspectives are vectorial properties and argue that vectorial properties are relations between spatial entities. Using Fine's notion of "qua objects" for an analysis of points of view, we show at last how our four-place approach to perspectival relations compares to more traditional understandings.
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09/10/2014 12:47
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20/08/2019 14:28
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