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

To: Ingvar Johansson <ingvar.johansson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 10:22:07 -0600
Message-id: <20070613162233.D91E3109776@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

>>Barry, you caricature Tom Gruber by saying he wants to build 
>>ontologies of concepts while you're building ontologies of the 
>>world. That ain't so.    (01)

Tom has a very clear and sophisticated understanding of what he is 
trying to do. The problem is not with Tom, it is with the many people 
who, in a variety of different ways, misunderstand Tom's definition, 
both because they misunderstand 'specification' (thinking that an 
ontology is a representation of concepts) and because they 
misunderstand 'concept' (thinking that it means, alternately: idea in 
the head of an expert, unit of knowledge, property or attibute, 
description of a property or attribute, type, set, meaning of a term, 
or term; and often scrambling several of these meanings in a single sentence).    (02)

I continue to believe that the only solution to this morass is to 
encourage people to abandon the use of the weasel words 'concept' and 
'conceptualization'. The biomedical ontology developer groups I have 
been mainly working with will tell you that taking this step has led 
to much greater clarity in communication.
BS    (03)

>>Anyone who builds an ontology is specifying a conceptualization. A 
>>good ontologist specifies conceptualizations that are as true to 
>>the structure of the world. But an ontology IS a specification of a 
>>conceptualization.  It is NOT a specification of the reality.  Only 
>>God can specify reality.  We can describe reality and act in it, 
>>but we can't specify it.  We describe reality by specifying our 
>>conceptualizations of it, arguing over them, refining them, and 
>>hammering out consensus agreements on them.
>>If we bite the bullet and admit that ontologies specify 
>>conceptualizations [of a domain], then it's easy to argue that 
>>conceptualizations should be allowed to have probabilities when we 
>>don't have enough information for a complete specification.  This 
>>argument makes sense even if we don't think the probabilities 
>>themselves are ontological.
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>Ingvar Johansson
>IFOMIS, Saarland University
>     home site: http://ifomis.org/
>     personal home site:
>     http://hem.passagen.se/ijohansson/index.html
>    (04)

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