Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The world is either digital or analogue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Francesco Berto, Jacopo Tagliabue

School/Research organisations


We address an argument by Floridi (Synthese 168(1):151–178, 2009; 2011a), to the effect that digital and analogue are not features of reality, only of modes of presentation of reality. One can therefore have an informational ontology, like Floridi’s Informational Structural Realism, without commitment to a supposedly digital or analogue world. After introducing the topic in Sect. 1, in Sect. 2 we explain what the proposition expressed by the title of our paper means. In Sect. 3, we describe Floridi’s argument. In the following three sections, we raise three difficulties for it, (i) an objection from intuitions: Floridi’s view is not supported by the intuitions embedded in the scientific views he exploits (Sect. 4); (ii) an objection from mereology: the view is incompatible with the world’s having parts (Sect. 5); (iii) an objection from counting: the view entails that the question of how many things there are doesn’t make sense (Sect. 6). In Sect. 7, we outline two possible ways out for Floridi’s position. Such ways out involve tampering with the logical properties of identity, and this may be bothersome enough. Thus, Floridi’s modus ponens will be our (and most ontologists’) modus tollens.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014

    Research areas

  • Analogue versus discrete, Atomism, Digital ontology, Mereological composition, Mereology

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Modal Meinongianism: conceiving the impossible

    Berto, F., 2 Jan 2020, Graham Priest on Paraconsistency and Dialetheism. Başkent, C. & Macaulay Ferguson, T. (eds.). Cham: Springer, p. 3-19 (Outstanding contributions to logic; vol. 18).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. The fundamental problem of logical omniscience

    Hawke, P., Özgün, A. & Berto, F., 20 Dec 2019, In : Journal of Philosophical Logic. Online First, 40 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Logica con i social network

    Plebani, M. & Berto, F., Nov 2019, Rome: Carocci. 112 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  4. Impossible worlds

    Berto, F. & Jago, M., 13 Jun 2019, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. 336 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  5. The logic of fast and slow thinking

    Solaki, A., Berto, F. & Smets, S., 1 Jun 2019, In : Erkenntnis. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Synthese (Journal)

    Theodoros Diasakos (Reviewer)
    18 Jan 2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Conceptual engineering for truth: aletheic properties and new aletheic concepts

    Scharp, K., 18 Feb 2020, In : Synthese. First Online, 42 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. A plea for KR

    Duncan Kerr, A., 28 May 2019, In : Synthese. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. On the indeterminacy of the meter

    Scharp, K., Jun 2019, In : Synthese. 196, 6, p. 2487-2517 31 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Carnapian explication and ameliorative analysis: a systematic comparison

    Dutilh Novaes, C., 24 Feb 2018, In : Synthese. 2018, p. 1-24 24 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Conceivability and possibility: some dilemmas for Humeans

    Berto, F. & Schoonen, T., Jun 2018, In : Synthese. 195, 6, p. 2697-2715 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 255689111