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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: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 17:00:08 -0600
Message-id: <20070612230017.2B95A109373@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
At 04:22 PM 6/11/2007, Pat Hayes wrote:
>Big snips to shorten the message...
>>>>>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))
>>>>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?
>>>Simply from linguistic habit.
>>If you apply term A to some sorts of things, and term B to other 
>>sorts of things, then there has to be something about the As (the 
>>things which get called 'As') and the Bs (the things which get 
>>called 'Bs'), which allows us to make the assignment. It does not 
>>seem to be entirely random.
>Not random, no. It may be rooted in the noun/verb distinction. But 
>this, it seems to me, is a matter best left to the linguists. There 
>is a case to be made, which you seem to think is obvious, that a 
>linguistic difference must reflect an ontological distinction. (I 
>think this is often assumed without adequate justification, and is 
>often false. Thinking about the history of 20th-century English 
>philosophy, one might call it the Oxford fallacy :-)
>>Moreover, it seems to be a habit which we all share, and are good 
>>at exercising. Yet more evidence that there is some easily 
>>apprehendable corresponding difference on the side of the entities.
>Or simply that we all speak the same language, or languages with a 
>common ancestor and similar structure.
>But surely you do not think that a rigid, logically necessary, 
>distinction can be based simply on a loose verbal habit?    (01)

The issue is independent of the 'rigid, logically necessary', and in 
any case points in the opposite direction. In virtue of what do we 
reliably apply A rather than B (say to dead sheep lying in the middle 
of the read) and B rather than A (say to incidents where trucks send 
said sheep flying)?    (02)

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