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Re: [ontolog-forum] Is there a universal ontology?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jenny ure <jure2@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 10:05:27 +0100
Message-id: <46A46F57.7050103@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
perhaps you have to take account of the fact that in collectively taking 
and acting on a particular
view of the domain it is
(a) purpose specific
(b) constructrted and enacted rather than discovered -  there is a sense 
in which we construct the reality we live in    (01)

To give the concrete example - after some group discussion on how to 
express the difference between river and lake in a geographical ontology
for ordnance survey mapping - we realised    (02)

(a) the definition for an environmentalist, a fisherman, a geographer, a 
sailor etc was purpose specific and based on purpose specific criteria, 
rather than on features of the domain itself
(b) the existence of an ordnance survey application that was widely 
adopted would create de facto standard for pragmatic reasons rather than 
ontological ones    (03)

Jenny Ure    (04)

John F. Sowa wrote:    (05)

>I strongly agree with the following point that Kathy made:
>KBL> One can believe there is a single reality without believing
> > there is a single universal ontology.
>For example, modern theories of physics and other "hard sciences"
>have developed notations and formalisms that go far beyond ordinary
>language.  Some of them, such as quantum mechanics, make detailed
>predictions that have proved to be very accurate, yet even the
>physicists find it difficult to explain what they mean to ordinary
>people, to other physicists, and even to themselves.  We already
>know that current theories of quantum mechanics are not absolutely
>true, and we have no assurance that an absolutely true theory can
>ever be found or that anyone could understand it even if it were
>As a realist, I believe that there is a reality that is independent
>of how we may think about it.  But as a fallibilist, I also believe
>  1. It is very difficult to get a precise characterization of that
>     reality.
>  2. Many theories, formal and informal, that people have discovered
>     have a great deal of truth in them.  They are sufficiently good
>     that people are willing to stake their lives on their predictions.
>  3. But it is impossible to determine whether any theory that anybody
>     has ever proposed is exactly true to the extent that no further
>     correction is necessary.
>  4. Science and engineering have abundantly demonstrated that theories
>     that are known to be false, but also known to be approximately
>     true to a very high degree (such as Newtonian mechanics) can be
>     extremely useful for practical applications.
>  5. Finally, I also emphasize Peirce's "first rule of reason":
>         Do not block the way of inquiry.
>     Whitehead made a similar point in slightly different words:
>         We must be systematic, but we must keep our systems open.
>John Sowa
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