The problem with A Documentary Theory of States and Their Existence as Quasi-Abstract Entities – by by Edward Heath Robinson
The paper argues that states do not have a place in the traditional Platonist duality of the concrete and the abstract.
And because geopolitical theories that recognize the existence of quasi-abstract states will have greater explanatory power than theories that deny their existence, the existence of quasi-abstract states should not be rejected on the basis of the Principle of Parsimony.
A Documentary Theory of States and Their Existence as Quasi-Abstract Entities
EDWARD HEATH ROBINSON Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science,The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
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.
It appears that geopolitical entities exist. It appears that we live in a world of armies, navies, trade organizations, nations, governments, nongovernmental organizations, federal political units, counties, electoral districts, provinces, and most signiﬁcantly for this article – states, which have long been a major focus of political geography. However, at a foundational level, the legitimacy of these entities as subjects of academic, and especially scientific, investigation confronts an ontological problem not faced by the subjects of physical geography. Whereas rivers, lakes, and mountains have an existence independent of what people believe about them, it sometimes seems that many of the subjects of human geography only exist because people believe they exist. Many scholars, including philosopher John Searle, have recognized this as a critical issue for the study of the social world. Although there appears to be an objective reality of geopolitical entities, and social entities more broadly, their mind-dependent nature calls into question whether or not such entities actually exist, and therefore whether investigating them can result in knowledge. For example, if the United States only exists because people agree it exists, is its existence an objective fact?
Based on the ontological theory of documentality, this paper argues that states are quasi-abstract objects (with position in time but not in space) that are often established by the constitutive powers of certain document acts.
Note the language here: “constitutive powers of certain document acts” a fancy way of saying someone wrote something down, and as the writings persist so does the entity exist so long as the documents do.
Conclusion: Elves Exist because there are books that say Elves exists.