The world is either digital or analogue

Francesco Berto*, Jacopo Tagliabue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


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


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


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