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Re: [ontolog-forum] Model or Reality

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 13:07:07 -0400
Message-id: <46C332BB.4040904@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Kathy, Chris, Pat, and Mills,    (01)

A few comments:    (02)

JFS>> ... a complete and perfect correspondence is a goal that may
 >> take humanity (and whatever species they may evolve into or be
 >> replaced by) an open-ended amount of time.    (03)

KL> What assurance do we have that complete and perfect correspondence
 > is possible?  If not complete and perfect correspondence, then what
 > degree of correspondence is possible?  What degree of correspondence
 > is necessary for the purpose?    (04)

We have no assurance whatever.  But we do know that engineers can
design bridges and airplanes that don't fall down -- most of the time.    (05)

KL>> Have you thought about how the systems that make use of this
 >> so-called "knowledge" are going to behave when they encounter
 >> situations (as they most assuredly will) in which this "knowledge"
 >> turns out to be wrong in task-relevant ways?    (06)

CM> That is a completely different question.  That is the question
 > of *vetting*, of ensuring that our ontologies accurately reflect
 > their domains in all "task-relevant" ways.  That is a *methodological*
 > question and is of course critical to good practice in ontological
 > engineering.  Granted, vetting has to do with justification, which
 > falls within the bounds of epistemology...    (07)

I agree that Kathy's question is different, but it deserves a simple
answer:  Sometimes, bridges and airplanes do fall down.    (08)

CM> I was careful to qualify "epistemology" as the philosophical
 > *analysis* of knowledge, the search for a *definition* of knowledge
 > that avoids all possible counterexamples.  Can knowledge be defined
 > as justitified true belief?  So-called Gettier problems show that
 > that traditional analysis doesn't work.  Is it belief caused by
 > a reliable mechansism?  Something else?    (09)

This is the kind of philosopher's problem that can never be solved
for one simple reason:  the terms 'knowledge' and 'belief' are
informal concepts that people find useful in everyday life, and
they're learned by family resemblances.  Trying to turn them into
technical terms is futile.  The "solution" to the Gettier problems
about defining knowledge is to *stop* playing the philosopher's
game of trying to define knowledge.    (010)

Instead, focus on where the action is:  the processes of perception
and action or their refinements in the scientific and engineering
methods of observation, measurement, testing, and application.
Although the word 'science' is derived from the Latin word for
knowing, scientists and engineers never try to define 'knowledge'.    (011)

PH> I welcome the time, hopefully in the relatively near future,
 > when this forum can return to topics relevant to actual ontological
 > engineering.    (012)

Mills Davis suggested a web site that is devoted to design research
in information systems:    (013)

    http://www.isworld.org/Researchdesign/drisISworld.htm    (014)

The topics mentioned there could also lead to endless discussion, but
at least they have a focus on information systems.    (015)

John    (016)

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