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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2007 08:54:22 -0400
Message-id: <20070609125511.ZLDO15873.mta10.adelphia.net@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Responding to Chris's comments on Pat / Bill composite:    (01)

At 05:32 AM 6/9/2007, Chris Partridge wrote:    (02)

>Pat: 4) Again, following Quine's doctrine, what 
>are these things for which the 
>continuant/occurrent distinction is 
>incoherent?  Presumably, you'd want to be 
>quantifying over some class of objects for which 
>you'd like to state some axioms governing, e.g., 
>property change over time, however that comes 
>out in your favorite formalism.  Then, by 
>Quine's doctrine you're committing to the 
>existence of those things.  Let's call them 
>Continuoccurrents.  Now you have to elaborate 
>your theory of Continuoccurrents and distinguish 
>them from temperatures, numbers, properties, 
>propositions and all the kinds of other things 
>you have in your ontology.  Doesn't sound to me 
>like that project is any less problematic than 
>the defense of either bicategorialism, 4D, or 
>any other metaphysical framework.  By this I 
>mean on a practical, engineering level.
>Chris: It seems, to me at least, there is a 
>difference between the continuant/occurrent 
>distinction and some of the other choices. These 
>other choices (e.g. 4D) seem to be metaphysical, 
>in that it is difficult to devise an empirical 
>check on whether they are correct. With the 
>continuant/occurrent distinction there seem to 
>be cases that question whether it partitions 
>objects. You know the standard philosophical 
>cases – avalanches and waves – as these have been discussed before.    (03)

The problem here, I think, is that people assume 
that fast-moving and fast-changing continuants    (04)

Consider a pack of monkeys moving through a 
forest, losing the odd monkey at the rear and 
gaining the odd monkey towards the front. The 
pack is a continuant. The processes of losing and 
gaining are occurrents. Waves are like that 
(monkeys = water molecules); organisms are like that (monkeys = cells).    (05)

Avalanche theory is based on the distinction 
between granular layers (continuants) and flows 
(which when summed together make the avalanches themselves).    (06)

>  In ontologies that deal with engineering 
> artefact, the same phenomena seems to arise 
> when (when we have a similar structure where) 
> objects are the components for other objects 
> built out. A simple example would be a network 
> of systems, sometimes people see it as the 
> systems networking, sometime people see it as a 
> network that things happen to – e.g. it goes 
> down for a while. To go back to Barry’s 
> example, some biologists see human bodies, e.g. 
> Fritz’s, as a process, with temporal parts    (07)

can you give me one or two examples of biologists who think that?    (08)

>– and would find it odd to have to distinguish 
>between Fritz’s body and Fritz’s body’s life. It 
>seems more as if the distinction is about 
>different ways of looking at things, that 
>sometimes can usefully be applied to the same thing.    (09)

No one is denying that there are different ways 
of looking at things. Perhaps someone can even 
look at Fritz's body and see it as a life, though I find it hard to do so.    (010)

>My personal experience is that when dealing with 
>the large bodies of data that exist in 
>operational systems, when constructing simple 
>taxonomies of the artefacts this data refers to, 
>I am (reasonably) often faced with a problem 
>about which category I want to put them in – and 
>what category to put there more general 
>supertypes that seem to include both occurrents 
>and continuants. Of course, I can devise a 
>practical workaround (for each of these 
>problematic classes of objects, introduce two 
>objects – the object and its life – and ignore 
>feelings that these seem reminiscent of 
>Ptolemy’s major epicycles) but this adds noise.    (011)

So how do you deal with John's lung was healthy 5 
years ago and cancerous today?    (012)

>It also seems to me pragmatic to, when dealing 
>with large systems, try to ‘cut nature at its 
>joints’ and not have too many workarounds making 
>the systems more complicated than they need to 
>be. Hence my suspicions (and maybe Pat’s) of this distinction.    (013)

Having worked long and hard with biologists it 
has become clear to me that the 
continuant/occurrent distinction is the most well 
entrenched of all the joints in nature (the 
distinction between anatomy and physiology, for 
example, is very old, and has not been threatened 
one iota by recent developments in, e.g. cellular anatomy.)
BS     (014)

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