Do Mountains Exist?

Ontology of Landforms and Topography

David M. Mark and Barry Smith
Departments of Geography (Mark) and Philosophy (Smith)
National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, and Center for Cognitive Science
University at Buffalo, New York 14261 U.S.A.
dmark@geog.buffalo.edu, phismith@buffalo

Submitted to Environment & Planning B



Abstract

Do mountains exist? The answer to this question is surely: yes. In fact, 'mountain' is the example of a kind of geographic feature or thing most commonly cited by English speakers (Mark et al., 1999; Smith and Mark 2001), and this result may hold across many languages and cultures. But whether they are considered as individuals (tokens) or as kinds (types), mountains do not exist in quite the same unequivocal sense as do such prototypical everyday objects as chairs or people.

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