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Re: [ontolog-forum] Two

To: "Gary Berg-Cross" <gary.berg-cross@xxxxxxxx>
Cc: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 23:21:41 -0500
Message-id: <p06230902c2a24fc6fc2a@[]>
>In responding (personally) to my previous post of
>>>We then proceeded to a long discussion on
>>>continuant and occurrents and then into
>>>So what about the initial question?
>You said:
>Barry suggested, in response to Waclaw,
>that a candidate two such ontologies (both
>needed, but incompatible) would be two based on
>incompatible views of time and change, referred
>to by the continuant/occurrent language. (He did
>this by referring to a paper awaiting
>publication.) I reacted to this by challenging
>the utility of the contrast, and offering to
>synthesize any two such actual ontologies into a
>single one. The thread then diverted into an old
>debate about the sources of this claimed
>distinction, whether it is necessary, etc.. These
>are old debates. My quip about philosophers was
>intended to put an end to that particular
>argument. My offer to eliminate continuants (or
>to unify two supposed inconsistent ontologies
>based on the continuant/occurrent distinction
>>into a single consistent ontology) still stands.
>>I have not seen any other proposed examples to answer Waclaw's question.
>This is a useful summary on that part of the 
>thread and looking at your response to Peter 
>(below) that
><Pat> I entirely agree that semantic
>consistency across large and varied datasets is valuable, perhaps
>essential. Someone has to provide a means to maintain this
>consistency, probably, in the current state of the art, by designing
>and publishing a common ontological framework and teaching people how
>to use it. My point was directed at the person to whom falls this
><Pat>responsibility, of designing and maintaining the central ontology.
>The constuctive questions that we might be discussing then include
>what is the best way to provide semantic consistency across large and
>varied datasets; and what means are used to maintain this
>consistency, probably, in the current state of the art, by designing
>and publishing a common ontological framework?
>Now if smart, analytic philosophers were to 
>apply themselves to these requirements
>in a focused way we might all prosper.    (01)

Well, to be fair to Barry Smith for a second, one 
can reasonably say that he is a splendid example 
of such a one doing exactly that. I just wish he 
had done it slightly differently :-)    (02)

Pat    (03)

>Gary Berg-Cross
>Executive Secretariat
>Spatial Ontology Community of Practice (SOCoP)
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of Pat Hayes
>Sent: Fri 6/22/2007 4:01 PM
>To: Chris Partridge
>Cc: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Two
>>Perhaps I can explain my motivation.
>>My work in ontological engineering focuses on ontologies for largish
>>business operational systems. In these, it is extremely useful to have a
>>semantically consistent framework across large and varied data sets. I have
>>found that for this it is useful/essential to have a good(ish) top ontology.
>>I have found that much of what exists in this top ontology is formal and
>>metaphysical - and that a rudimentary understanding of metaphysics is
>>useful/essential in devising and (at the beginning) using the top ontology.
>>Pat's original (I think, mischievous) comment about adopting a DIY approach
>>seems to me a recipe for disaster for this kind of work - hence my response.
>It was worded in a barbed way, but I did (and do) mean it sincerely.
>But perhaps it can be misunderstood. Applied to Chris' application
>area, I did not mean to imply that every user in a large organization
>should invent their own metaphysics. I entirely agree that semantic
>consistency across large and varied datasets is valuable, perhaps
>essential. Someone has to provide a means to maintain this
>consistency, probably, in the current state of the art, by designing
>and publishing a common ontological framework and teaching people how
>to use it. My point was directed at the person to whom falls this
>responsibility, of designing and maintaining the central ontology.
>Should they feel that they need to study (or consult someone who has
>studied) metaphysics or philosophy before starting on this
>enterprise, or should they rather focus on making the ontology
>reflect the needs of their organization or community, and make up the
>'metaphysics' as they go along, as much as seems necessary? I meant
>to suggest the latter.
>Although it is of course up to the person themselves to say what is
>helpful to them, I meant only to try to counteract what I often
>perceive as a kind of ritual genefluxion to academic philosophy among
>ontological engineers. If you find textbooks of metaphysics helpful,
>I will not try to gainsay you. But if you don't, don't feel guilty
>about it. I have been an academic philosopher, and I didn't find any
>of it to have the slightest relevance to ontology design. And it
>seems to me that, on balance, it has caused more harm than good in
>our field.
>>I was attempting to point out what I saw as some inconsistencies in his
>>rationalisation of his position and clarifying it - so that, hopefully, a
>>useful/essential approach was not dismissed out of hand.
>>So my concern was more about blocking a retreat rather than making an
>>advance. I am guessing that Pat's dog metaphor shows that we (Pat and I)
>>have reached some kind of conclusion. I am not sure whether this advances
>>anything much.
>>If I may, I'd like to restate Pat's dog story is more boring but less
>>uncomplimentary terms to make the conclusion clearer.
>>It is normal practice for engineers to build their artefacts and theories
>>selectively taking material from relevant sciences. Given the different
>>goals and objectives of the engineering and scientific communities, it is
>>unsurprising that the scientists from whom engineers borrow this material
>>are often not the best judges of how to use it for engineering ends. Though
>>they might be good at spotting how their material is being grossly misused
>>or misunderstood.
>Im less concerned with science than with philosophy. I don't see
>philosophy as being even remotely like a science, either in its
>goals, practices or results.
>>I think I detected in Pat's dog story a grudging acceptance that, for
>>example, re-using some pertinent bits of metaphysics might by useful in a
>>top ontology - so long as one realised that the opinions of the
>>metaphysicians developed internally in philosophical communities should not
>>be expected to have any special relevance to the application of their work
>>in ontological engineering.
>>Pat, am I at all right here?
>Well, yes, if you like. Though I havn't seen any evidence that
>re-using a pertinent bit of metaphysics IS in fact any use. Can you
>cite an example? And I prefer my way of putting it, since (as I say)
>it seems to me that a counterblast is needed against a widespread and
>common mis-perception of the importance of philosophy in ontology.
>>On second thoughts, if Pat does agree then I think this would a small
>>advance. And Pat's dog story or my re-rendering could be regarded as a
>>relevant conclusion.
>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
>>>bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Peter F Brown
>>>Sent: 21 June 2007 22:54
>>>To: [ontolog-forum] ; Pat Hayes
>>>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Two
>>>Could someone sum up where this thread is going? Or is it just a
>>>philosophical stroll in the park (or Platonic cave, I'm not sure
>>>what...)? Frankly, apart from a partially illuminating Philosophy 101,
>>>has anything actually been said that advances the cause of ontological
>>>research and practice? If so, someone care to draw some conclusions?
>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>>[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Alan
>>>Sent: 21 June 2007 23:22
>>>To: [ontolog-forum] ; Pat Hayes
>>>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Two
>>>On Jun 21, 2007, at 4:51 PM, Pat Hayes wrote:
>  >>
>>>>   And if you subscribe to for example  public-semweb-lifesci@xxxxxx
>  >>>  (or look in the recent archives) you  will see hard-nosed, busy,
>>>>   practical men who are trying to build  systems of direct social and
>>>>   scientific importance, having  interminable debates about whether
>>>>   or not a computational process has  to be distinguished from a
>>>>   physical process because one is a  continuant but the other is an
>>>>   occurrent. All of which is a tragic  waste of time and energy.
>>>a) I think this subject came up at the beginning of the month or so,
>>>at worst, a portion of discussion during a period of 3 weeks has been
>>>tragically wasted. Also, as you point out on occasion, these
>>>discussions are finite, and so the debates are certainly not
>>>interminable :)
>>>b) Being one of those people, I don't happen to think that the
>>>discussion is a waste of time. There is a lot of (well meaning but)
>>>sloppy thinking that happens on that list, and the discussions on
>>>computation processes are, at a minimum, educational. They seem, to
>>>my experience, the normal sort of discussion a group of people have
>>>as they move towards a common understanding.
>>>Hard nosed, busily, practically, yours,
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