This response to Kevin Cox (2013) links questions relating to critical realism to recent debates on assemblage theory in geography. It argues that similar issues about ontology have been raised in the latter’s version of realism, though they have been answered differently. A key difference between the two is assemblage theory’s rejection of internal relations in favour of a more restrictive ontology of universal
external relations. I argue that we need to avoid both the totalizing view of the world implied in some of Cox’s (2013) comments and the external relations only ontology of assemblage theory.