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Re: [ontolog-forum] The Relation Between Logic and Ontology inMetaphysic

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 01:10:18 -0500
Message-id: <A60CA07A-9D1C-4514-99F0-6B01DD9AEB60@xxxxxxxx>
On Mar 16, 2007, at 10:32 PM, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
> On 3/17/07, Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>> What might be nice (but possibly impossible) is to agree on some  
>>> frame of reference or common definitions of the terms used in  
>>> this thread and others.  Without such, I fear this community will  
>>> be doomed to argue the very basic tenets of ontology without  
>>> arriving at consensus.
>> I whole-heartedly agree.  The thing is, the frame of reference in
>> which those terms are defined is settled and fixed, namely,
>> mathematical logic.  There should be no issue of their meanings in a
>> mature community devoted to ontological engineering.  Knowledge of
>> basic mathematical logic -- minimally: formal languages, model
>> theory, proof theory -- is as fundamental to ontological engineering
>> as the calculus is to electrical engineering, and no one can be
>> considered a serious practitioner of the discipline without it.
> offensive' statements like the one [above]...    (01)

Suppose you were to announce that you intended to build a bridge over  
a wide river and that you had your own "qualitative" understanding of  
bridge construction and such relevant concepts as mass and mechanical  
resonance.  Would you find it offensive if you were told that the  
meanings of those terms vis-a-vis bridge construction had already  
been fixed by modern physics?  The only reason I can imagine for such  
a response would be that you were under the misimpression that bridge  
building isn't really an engineering discipline grounded on physics  
but on something far more subjective and intangible, something about  
which there can be various, equally valid viewpoints, none of which  
is really open to criticism.  That would be an interesting (and  
incorrect) view.  It would also not get many reliable bridges built.    (02)

The goal of ontological engineering is to be able to exchange and  
robustly process distributed information on high-speed computer  
networks.  The way that information gets into computers -- in the  
ontological engineering paradigm -- is by means of one or another  
formal representation language.  The only way of guaranteeing that  
the language in question has the required representational capacities  
is by providing it with a rigorous model theory.  The only way the  
information represented is going to be reliably processed is by means  
of (among other things) a sound underlying proof theory.  This is why  
knowledge of basic mathematical logic -- formal languages, model  
theory, and proof theory -- is *fundamental* to ontological  
engineering.  Ontological engineering is (or, at least, is becoming)  
a technical, scientific discipline built upon rigorous and advanced  
mathematical underpinnings.  If one purports to be doing ontological  
engineering, then one's work must clearly feed directly into the  
above goal by the stated means.    (03)

There is certainly plenty of room for nontechnical discussion that is  
relevant to ontological engineering.  Notably, there are many  
important antecedent philosophical (or at least quasi-philosophical)  
issues that must be addressed about how best to represent certain  
features of the world.  But it questionable how effectively one can  
address these issues in an ontological engineering context without  
understanding the technical fundamentals of ontological engineering  
itself.    (04)

This is not at all to cast any aspersions on what you do.  What you  
do is no doubt intrinsically interesting, which is justification  
enough; and it may well have direct IT applications, but through a  
different paradigm -- and there are certainly other approaches to  
managing and processing information than the ontological engineering  
approach.    (05)

This is not an attempt to restrict discourse to a "partial" point of  
view.  It is an attempt to focus discussion in a forum allegedly  
dedicated to ontological engineering whose function and purpose seem  
to me to have become perilously unclear.    (06)

Chris Menzel    (07)

ps:  Please interleave comments rather than top-posting.    (08)

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