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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology and methodology: roles

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 10:30:36 -0500
Message-id: <46014F9C.3040605@xxxxxxxxxxx>
John and Chris,    (01)

JB> There is certainly in some sense an individual
 > involved.  That is the qua-individual.    (02)

I agree that there is some word or phrase, such as "qua",
"as", "as if", "ex officio", or "ex cathedra", involved.
But every such qualifier indicates that we're not "really"
dealing with an individual that is truly distinct from
the basic human being.  Fundamental principle:    (03)

    Every employee, bishop, pope, president, actor, author,
    skier, typist, etc., is a human being.    (04)

If an assassin shoots any of the people playing any of those
roles (and many have tried), it is the human being who dies.    (05)

JB> This is something that must exist since it has its own
 > identity criteria, can be counted, engages in distinctive
 > activities, etc. etc. That it is also necessarily in all
 > cases dependent on a further individual, the one who gets
 > thrown in jail (thereby becoming a further individual,
 > the jailee), should also not be a problem. I don't see the
 > confusion that is meant to arise---only the confusion that
 > does arise when the notion of individuals is restricted.    (06)

In every one of those cases, there is some base entity
that is involved in a role.  I strongly believe in having
pragmatic or epistemic criteria for distinguishing which
role is involved in any particular circumstance.    (07)

But I also believe that the confusion is based on ambiguities
in the terms "individual" and "identity criteria".  Those
words are an open invitation to creating new "individuals"
and "identities" in very loosely defined circumstances.    (08)

Related confusions have been created for centuries with the
words "universals" and "particulars".  I realize that those
terms have a long history that is worth studying for insight
into the issues involved.  But each author who uses those
words for a particular application adds further encrustations
of connotations that are different from those of the previous
generation(s) of authors.    (09)

Sooner or later, it becomes important to sweep out the attic
of the collective mind and examine which, if any, of the
historical terms are sturdy enough to build on for the future.    (010)

My preference is to use a very simple version of logic, such
as FOL, for the base language and to use a very simple first-order
metalanguage for talking about the items in the base.  When you
do that, universals are replaced by predicates or relations,
particulars and individuals are replaced by quantified variables,
and identity criteria are replaced by type constraints on
syntactically and semantically well-formed statements.    (011)

I realize that this is a very Quinean approach, and I have many
concerns and caveats about a Quinean ontology.  But it is a useful
methodology for clearing out a lot of cobwebs from the mind.    (012)

JB> The points referred to in my previous post with reference
 > to the qua-individuals were not addressed.    (013)

Could you please restate your points using FOL + metalanguage
instead of all the talk about "qua" and "individuals".  (If you
like, you can use a version of stylized or controlled English
provided that the translation to any recognized version of FOL
is clear.)    (014)

JB> It is not that the airlines may have different numbers for
 > their flights, it is the fact that a single person may be
 > a passenger more than once. There is then an individual:
 >    person-who-is-travelling-on-flight-of-airline-X
 > this is generally filled in each case of its existence by
 > a real person (probably, but as with the mules as employees
 > example, this might not be necessary in all cases). Then
 > I can motivate curious derived calculations like:
 >   Airline-X has flown x-quadrillion passenger-miles
 >   in 2007.    (015)

Excellent example.  Please drop words like "individual" and
"real" and reformulate the point in FOL + metalanguage.
I believe that would indicate who is counting what.    (016)

JB> It is not the *role* that is counted it is the particular
 > fillers of the roles: that is the instances involved,
 > or participating in, the role's being instantiated.    (017)

Again, drop the words "role", "filler", "instance", "participating",
and "instantiated".  Just look at the FOL.    (018)

JB>  Even the following:    (019)

JFS>> ... ever imply that any human being who plays
 >> those roles bifurcates into multiple individuals,
 >> no matter how many simultaneous roles there may be.    (020)

JB> may actually be more unclear than it might at first glance seem.    (021)

I didn't claim it was clear.  I was using the deprecated
language I would prefer to avoid.    (022)

CP> Can your (or the LOA's) qua individuals 'belong' to
 > different non-qua-individuals over time?  I think this
 > is needed to deal with corporations sole in particular,
 > and positions in general.    (023)

Please put the words "belong" and "corporations sole" on
the deprecated list until they are defined in terms of
FOL + metalanguage.  After the translation, either the
question will disappear or the answer should be clear.    (024)

John    (025)

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