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Re: [ontolog-forum] (OT) German

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Stavros Macrakis" <macrakis@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 16:03:29 -0500
Message-id: <8b356f880801081303l428bd332n7122d9c6712c0f85@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Jan 8, 2008 2:34 PM, Duane Nickull <dnickull@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
It was meant to be funny however a hippo is still quite a different beast from the horse.

Let me try to save this discussion from utter triviality.

Lakoff has pointed out the centrality of metaphor, analogy, and graded categories in natural language, contrasting them with the property-based strict categories of Aristotle.  The female biological and genetic parent who lives with and cares for a child, is its legal parent, and is married to and lives with and its biological and genetic father is certainly a "mother" in every traditional way, but how do we deal with cases like adoptive mothers (cares for but not biological), foster mothers (cares for but not legal parent), lesbian co-mothers (one of whom may or may not be a genetic or biological parent), surrogate mothers (biological but not genetic), egg donors (why don't we use the word "mother" here?), stepmothers (married to father), birth mothers (biological but doesn't care for or live with), transgendered adoptive mother (not genetically female), etc.? The intersection of the properties of these different kinds of "mother" is empty.

How to treat these in an ontology?

-- with exceptions?  "A foster mother is a mother except that ...."
-- with limited analogy? "A foster mother is like a generic mother in that X and Y are true"
-- as arbitrary names for otherwise arbitrary categories? "A foster-mother is like a mother because she happens to share some properties with a mother (just as a father shares some properties with a mother), but also shares the substring 'mother' in the category name."
-- with graded membership? "A foster mother is 50% mother." (not clear what sort of reasoning you can do on this...)

And how do you characterize the modifier "foster" or "step" or "adoptive"?


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