ontolog-forum
[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] Two ontologies that are inconsistent but both needed

To: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Pierre Grenon <pierre.grenon@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2007 19:26:44 -0400
Message-id: <20070608233056.SLGH3934.mta11.adelphia.net@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
At 05:39 PM 6/8/2007, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>An example is described here:
>>
>>http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/persistence.pdf
>>
>>Barry
>
>Hey, nice survey. Utterly wrong in its 
>conclusions, but nice :-). I'm happy to welcome 
>you to this debate which many of us have been 
>involved in for quite a long time. (see for example
>http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes/Endurantism&PerdurantismDebate2002.pdf )
>
>But you come to the wrong conclusion. These two 
>'irreconcilable' ontologies ARE reconcilable, if 
>one does things right. The basic error is to 
>assume that what a philosopher means by 'exists' 
>has to be rendered into the logical existential 
>quantifier. That is good form, perhaps good 
>doctrine, when the game is to use formal logic 
>to sharpen philosophical debate; but that is not 
>(or at any rate should not be) what we are 
>trying to do here. The only sensible engineering 
>attitude to take towards the logical existential 
>quantifier is that it means "is an entity which 
>can be referred to", i.e. an entity which is the 
>denotation of a logical term; which as long as 
>we are using a reasonably classical logic is 
>essentially vacuous, of course. In a pluralistic 
>ontological framework, this cannot usually be 
>interpreted as any philosopher's notion of 
>existence. Those notions have to be treated as 
>classes or properties. Yes, existence IS a 
>predicate, when there are many notions of 
>existence to be considered. It has to be in any 
>logic which is intended to support 
>interoperability. (See the regrettably brief 
>discussion at 
>http://www.ihmc.us:16080/users/phayes/IKL/GUIDE/GUIDE.html#panoptic 
>. Sorry, I know that to say this to a philosopher is like farting in church.)
>
>After thinking and arguing about endurance and 
>perdurance for longer than I care to remember, I 
>have come a rather mundane conclusion which can 
>be summed up as follows: the 
>continuant/occurrent distinction is basically a 
>distinction between *how we use names* when 
>talking about spatiotemporal entities. It should 
>not be seen as a fundamental ontological 
>distinction: it is merely a linguistic 
>distinction between modes of expression. Things 
>we call continuants are things for which we tend 
>to use the same name at different times, so it 
>is natural to encode changes to their properties 
>by attaching the temporal parameter to their 
>properties and relations rather than to them: we write things like
>
>(inside Fritz Bratwurst Morning)
>
>but we don't tend to talk of Fritz having 
>temporal parts. Special terminologies are used 
>to distinguish these temporally-sensitive 
>relations and properties: "fluents", "roles".
>
>Occurrents, on the other hand, are things that 
>we do tend to speak of as having temporal parts 
>or 'episodes', so it is natural to formalize 
>temporally-relative talk of those entities by 
>attaching the temporal qualifier to the name 
>itself. If Fritz and the Bratwurst were occurrents, we might write
>
>(inside (episode Morning Fritz)(episode Morning Bratwurst))
>
>instead.    (01)

So there is a distinction between continuants and 
occurrents which is prior to our use of names -- 
for otherwise in virtue of what would we attach 
the first kind of name to the first kind of 
entity and the second kind of name to the second kind of entity?    (02)

>If one puts all philosophical discussion aside 
>for a moment and asks for a purely formal, 
>syntactic, way of distinguishing these ways of 
>describing things, what it seems to amount to is 
>where to attach a temporal parameter to a 
>time-free assertion. One might pose it as a challenge: given that
>
>(inside Fritz Bratwurst)
>
>is true during a time-interval
>
>Morning
>
>invent a systematic way of encoding that fact by 
>incorporating the temporal parameter into the 
>logical expression. There are basically three 
>places it can go: attached to the entire expression (the 'ist' version:
>
>(ist Morning (that (inside Fritz Bratwurst)))
>
>using the paraphernalia of context logic), or 
>attached to the relation symbol (the first 
>option) or attached to one or more of the 
>argument terms (the second option). These 
>correspond respectively to the 
>hybrid/context-logical, continuant and occurrent ways of treating time.
>
>So, can these co-exist? Yes, of course. One can 
>use both (in fact, all three) modes of 
>expression in a single ontology, and in a 
>reasonably expressive logic (like IKL) can even 
>write axioms which relate them systematically. 
>One does need to use some discipline, to keep 
>things straight. One has to use even more 
>discipline to use them both (or all) in ways 
>that respect the philosophical prejudices of all 
>users. For example, if someone insists, as you 
>do, that it is incoherent or irrational to talk 
>of temporal parts of a continuant, then one will 
>probably need some kind of mechanical check to 
>ensure that no entity is ever spoken of in both 
>temporal styles. Such code could be written, but 
>I personally see no practical use for it, and 
>large amounts of harm caused by insisting upon 
>the distinction it would be there to check.
>
>The continuant/occurrent distinction seems to be 
>of no actual value in real ontology 
>engineering[1]: on the contrary, in fact, recent 
>discussions on this very list and on 
>public-semweb-lifesci@xxxxxx seem to illustrate 
>what I have always found to be the case, that as 
>soon as one gets away from nice homely examples 
>like Fritz' bratwurst, the distinction becomes 
>more and more tenuous, intuitions regarding it 
>dissolve, and the insistence on its being a 
>basic distinction rapidly becomes more trouble 
>than it is worth, causing long and pointless 
>debates and tending, if anything, to produce 
>new, artificial barriers to interoperability 
>rather than help with our practical goal. The 
>real world is full of entities which are both 
>'continuant' and 'occurrent', both thing and 
>process: ocean waves, storms, weather fronts, 
>the Olympic flame, a cumulus cloud, the interior of a Bessemer furnace,    (03)

all of these are self-evidently continuants, to 
me; some of them even get proper names ("Tropical Storm Barry", anyone?)    (04)

>the Krebs cycle    (05)

is a series of enzyme-catalysed chemical 
reactions, so self-evidently an occurrent    (06)

>a tomato ripening on a sunny windowsill,    (07)

is a tomato, so no problem, eh?    (08)

>a cell expanding because the sodium pumps in its 
>membrane are insufficient to oppose the osmotic pressure,    (09)

is a cell, so ditto.    (010)

>. The list goes on and on: and the 
>Brentano/Chisholm doctrine of mutual 
>incompatibility forces one to make all these 
>pointless and harmful ontological distinctions 
>between things and their lifespans, distinctions 
>which arise solely from the artificiality of 
>this doctrine of ontological apartheid.
>
>Ive never seen any convincing pragmatic or 
>engineering argument for insisting on this as a rigid distinction.    (011)

I used to be a philosopher. Now I am an 
ontologist. The difference is that now I do not 
engage in those philosophical discussions for 
which it is clear that there are good arguments 
on either side. I just choose (like driving on 
the left). I choose to distinguish between 
continuants and occurrents. Hence I refuse to be 
tempted by your intriguing morsels below. For we 
have, after all, more important work to do.
BS    (012)

>There are plenty of purely philosophical 
>arguments, but then there are also plenty of 
>purely philosophical arguments in the other 
>direction. As you know, there are almost no 
>uncontroversial, universally accepted positions 
>in philosophy. Academic philosophy has no 
>"normal science", does not come to widely 
>accepted conclusions, and does not progress by a 
>kind of accumulation of evidence, where the task 
>of each new theory or argument is to account for 
>everything that earlier theories have done, but 
>to do so better. Philosophy is an ongoing 
>argument, where professional competence is 
>demonstrated by the ability to find a new flaw 
>in someone else's argument (which itself might 
>be the finding of a flaw in someone else's 
>argument, and so on for many layers). This means 
>that while almost any nontrivial philosophical 
>position can be bolstered by a long list of 
>impressive references, it can also can be 
>attacked by an equally long list of authorities 
>who have argued the opposite. This is why I have 
>often said that while philosophy can be of use 
>to ontological engineering, the appropriate 
>attitude to take towards a philosopher should be 
>rather like one adopts to a pet dog: they need 
>to be housebroken, properly trained and fed 
>well, but it is most important not to let them 
>feel that they have the upper hand. (I 
>personally find the 'intuition-pump' (in 
>Dennett's phrase) that your paper obliquely 
>uses, which I tend to attribute to Simon's 
>definition of "continuant" as something which, 
>when present, is wholly present, quite 
>unpersuasive because it is circular. If I have 
>temporal parts, then I am NOT wholly present 
>now. So am I wholly present now? In a sense yes, 
>in another sense no. I can run my intuition either way.)
>
>One pragmatic argument I have heard is that the 
>distinction provides a kind of conceptual 
>scaffolding, an ontological discipline which 
>helps users render their intuitions more clearly 
>by requiring them to think more clearly, 
>basically. While this general idea certainly has 
>some merit (as for example in the successful 
>"Ontoclean" notions) it seems to have no real 
>purchase when applied to the 
>continuant/occurrent distinction, since the only 
>purpose of making this distinction is to 
>maintain the distinction itself. If one simply 
>denies it then nothing is thereby lost: the only 
>result is that distinctions, equally artificial, 
>which have been produced by this splitting (such 
>as the required distinction between Fritz and 
>Fritz's lifespan) are themselves no longer 
>needed. The resulting wave of simplification and 
>unification rolls through the ontology like a 
>kind of global relaxation into a simpler, and 
>yet ironically more expressive, ontological 
>framework. So the 'discipline' which this 
>framework requires serves only to maintain the 
>framework itself: it is like a parade-ground exercise of marching in step.
>
>I don't mean to argue that the intuitive 
>categories of 'enduring thing' and 'event' are 
>vacuous or useless. To the extent that they fit 
>with ontological intuitions, and with linguistic 
>usage, they are useful and important. But one 
>can admit all that, and even include them as 
>categories in a formal framework, without 
>requiring that they constitute a rigid taxonomy, 
>so that every physical thing MUST be in exactly 
>one of the two categories and as a matter of 
>logical necessity CANNOT be in both. Things can 
>be in both, and there is no need to be concerned 
>about this or try to forbid it. One can be 
>noncommittal about the category. Sometimes it is 
>useful to speak of temporal parts of 
>continuant-like entities. I had red hair as a 
>child. Why should one not be able to render that 
>by speaking of the child-temporal-part of me, 
>and attributing the color 'red' to its hair? If 
>that treats me as a process, I am perfectly 
>happy to be regarded as a process when that is 
>useful. For some purposes, indeed, it is 
>difficult to see me any other way than as a 
>process (as for example when we learnt that I 
>lose and gain cells at what might otherwise be 
>an alarming rate.) The logical sky does not fall 
>when a temporal parameter is attached to a 
>continuant-like name. It is perfectly clear what 
>it means, even to those who feel that it ought 
>to be meaningless. One can (in CL) even state 
>conditions which translate this form of logical 
>description to the more continuant-like form:
>
>(forall (r (x Continuant)(t TemporalInterval))(if (r (x t)) (r x t) ))
>
>Perfectly consistent, with a clear meaning, and it works.
>
>(BTW, I suspect that nothing in the case which 
>started this thread comes anywhere close to this 
>degree of complexity or intensity of philosophical debate.)
>
>Pat
>
>[1] PS. I know that your framework and Dolce 
>both use it, and are both used by real people in 
>real settings. But that in itself is not 
>evidence that a similar but simpler framework 
>which does not have this distinction in it might not be even more use.
>
>PPS. Although I am doing all this emailing on 
>borrowed time, this issue is important enough 
>that I will make the following challenge. If 
>anyone has two actual ontologies (of a 
>reasonable size, in a reasonable formalism) 
>which satisfy Waclaw's **criterion** below for 
>the reasons outlined by Barry and Pierre, then 
>please send them to me and I will undertake to 
>produce a single ontology, written in CL or at 
>worst IKL, which is consistent but into which 
>they can both be translated so as to preserve 
>entailments. That is, my ontology may (will :-) 
>require one or both of them to be rendered into 
>a different form, but that re-rendering will not 
>break any inferences, if used uniformly. I may need a week or two.
>
>>
>>At 08:34 AM 6/8/2007, Waclaw Kusnierczyk wrote:
>>>The discussion would certainly be made clearer if one could support the
>>  >claims with a simple example;  e.g., **two ontologies that taken together
>>>are inconsistent, which cannot be reduced to a single consistent
>>>ontology, and which both are necessary to cover the needs for all
>>  >involved in modeling the domain.**
>>>
>>>As in mathematics, illustrative examples help in understanding dry
>>>theories.  I sympathize with Bill, and would like to see a
>>>counterexample to what he says.
>>>
>>>vQ
>>>
>>>Bill Andersen wrote:
>>>  > Hi John...
>>>  >
>>>  > On Jun 8, 2007, at 01:42 , John F. Sowa wrote:
>>>  >
>>>  >> Those are two important points, but they don't exhaust all the
>>>  >> options.  There are many cases where the ontologies happen to have
>>>  >> some features that create inconsistencies, but with some revisions
>>>  >> those inconsistencies could be eliminated by redefining some of
>>>  >> the terms.  There are also many cases where the same thing is
>>>  >> viewed at different levels of granularity or from different
>>>  >> perspectives.  Any inconsistencies caused by such methods
>>>  >> could also be eliminated, in principle.
>>>  >>
>>>  >> However, the job of eliminating every one of the inconsistencies
>>>  >> that could arise could take an enormous amount of effort.  Instead
>>>  >> of striving for a global consistency of everything, it might be
>>  > >> better to adopt methods that don't require global consistency.
>>>  >
>>>  > What I was more trying to get at was the notion of identity (or
>>>  > perhaps unity) for "ontologies".  In Sean's original note, he said
>>>  > something like "a single ontology cannot be used".  You just gave us
>>>  > a recipe for how to make (IMO) a single ontology from Sean's
>>>  > "inconsistent" pieces, via the use of reformulation of his pieces to
>>>  > make them consistent, or via use of some kind of paraconsistency.
>>>  >
>>>  > That was what I was trying to get to in my original note  loose talk
>>>  > of "one single ontology for X can't ..." is usually based on equally
>>>  > loose understanding of the terms "ontology" and "can't".   Sorry I
>>>  > wasn't more explicit about this in my original note.
>>>  >
>>>  >       .bill
>>>  >
>>>  > _________________________________________________________________
>>>  > Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
>>>  > Subscribe/Config: 
>>> http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/
>>>  > Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>>  > Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
>>>  > Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/
>>>  > To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>>  >
>>>
>>>--
>>>Wacek Kusnierczyk
>>>
>>>------------------------------------------------------
>>>Department of Information and Computer Science (IDI)
>>>Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
>>>Sem Saelandsv. 7-9
>>>7027 Trondheim
>>>Norway
>>>
>>>tel.   0047 73591875
>>>fax    0047 73594466
>>>------------------------------------------------------
>>>
>>>_________________________________________________________________
>>>Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
>>>Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/
>>>Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>>Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
>>>Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/
>>>To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>
>>
>>
>>_________________________________________________________________
>>Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
>>Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/
>>Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
>>Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/
>>To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>
>
>--
>---------------------------------------------------------------------
>IHMC            (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973   home
>40 South Alcaniz St.    (850)202 4416   office
>Pensacola                       (850)202 4440   fax
>FL 32502                        (850)291 0667    cell
>phayesAT-SIGNihmc.us       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes
>
>    (013)



_________________________________________________________________
Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (014)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>