Skip to main content


Dissertation on the ontology of states

Research Achievements

Dissertation on the ontology of states

In November 2010, Heath Robinson defended his dissertation on the ontology of states. His approach involved three different components: political geography, philosophical ontology, and information science ontology. He examined whether or not states were organizations, the nature of their geopolitical boundaries, whether or not states are agentive objects, and how it is that they can be destroyed through physical military efforts despite being nonphysical entities. One major section of the dissertation has already been published, one is in press, one is in peer review, and the fourth is written and awaiting submission to a journal. In addition to furthering a theoretical understanding of geopolitical entities, this research will be useful in creating an ontology-based way to integrate geographic information into the semantic web. The topic is highly interdisciplinary, and almost certainly would not have been addressed had Dr. Robinson not enrolled in the Buffalo IGERT in GIScience.