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Re: [ontolog-forum] A "common basis"

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Adam Pease <adampease@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 14:08:01 -0700
Message-id: <4638FDB1.2090901@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
John,    (01)

> We are working on this. I don't think it is easy to come up with because
> getting clear what a "fully axiomatized example etc." is not in itself
> a simple matter. You suggested yourself, Adam, that finding relations
> between different ontological categories may be impossibly difficult:
> remember the discussion of SUMO:Process, DOLCE:Perdurant, PSL:Process
> last year? (or was that another list...?). When the ontologies being
> compared have no common starting point, proving incompatibility is
> not at all easy (unfortunately, proving compatability is not so easy
> either!). But, as I said, we are working on this because our framework
> does allow heterogenous and distinct theories to co-exist: we then try  
> and prove
> (formally, not English text of hand-waving, but with theorem provers)
> relationships between those theories. We are considering methods for
> proving inconsistency that work for more than toy examples, but there
> is still some significant groundwork to get done. All of that groundwork
> requires richer notions of structure and modularities in ontologies than
> is commonly found in current offerings.
>     (02)

In a formal ontology like SUMO, or DOLCE, I'd say the axioms are all you 
have.  It's true that there's no common basis, so trying to divine some 
extra-logical intent that would relate them is problematic, to say the 
least.    (03)

But, in any case, that's not really germane to the issue of whether an 
upper ontology is possible.  Although I don't know DOLCE or Cyc as well 
as SUMO of course, I'd say none is likely to contain any fatal flaw that 
wouldn't enable each of them to be used as a common upper ontology.    (04)

Rather than just imagining some fatal flaw exists, I think it's 
incumbent on those who claim a common upper ontology is impossible to 
give at least one example, as a logical proof, of such a flaw.  Showing 
that two upper ontologies contradict each other wouldn't accomplish 
that.  You'd have to show that some real-world example could only be 
represented in one ontology, and not the other (or perhaps in neither).    (05)

Adam    (06)

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