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Re: [ontolog-forum] (OT) German

To: "Stavros Macrakis" <macrakis@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 12:45:29 -0600
Message-id: <p06230910c3b15bda2c82@[]>
At 1:16 PM -0500 1/14/08, Stavros Macrakis wrote:
>  > Excellent example of why it is better, when 
>trying to do ontology, to think about what is
>>  being decribed, ie what there is, ie do 
>>ONTOLOGY, rather than linguistics or conceptual 
>Yes, I understand that that's the goal of ontology.
>However, though you may well be able to cut nature at its joints when
>you're talking about squirrels vs. bluebirds, things get harder when
>you don't know where the joints are, or where the joints change with
>time and place.    (01)

True. Sometimes you have to decide to just cut 
somewhere and hope to not do too much damage, 
just to get started.    (02)

>Consider a treaty about the rights of mothers which was written before
>in-vitro fertilization made surrogate mothers possible or before
>same-sex marriage was legalized in some jurisdictions; it might not
>define "mother" unambiguously in those cases (if it does not specify
>whether a 'biological' mother is one who gave birth to the child, or
>one who is genetically a parent), or may even be logically
>inconsistent (if it assumes that a child has exactly one female legal
>parent, for example).    (03)

And what happens in such a case? I presume 
lawyers argue and judges decide, based on 
attempts to judge the intentions of the treaty 
drafters and such things as analogous cases 
already established, etc.. Its a complicated 
business even for the best human decision-makers. 
We aren't going to have to worry about such cases 
for our routine ontology constructions.    (04)

>  This sort of situation is bound to arise in a
>variety of areas, and I don't think it works to assume that every
>possibility will be covered in advance    (05)

Of course not, but...    (06)

>  (the axiomatization of all
>knowledge and law!), or that the ontology will be revised every time
>medicine or law changes.    (07)

...why not? Ontologies will surely be used as 
long as they are useful, and revised or replaced 
when not. I see the likely lifespan of an 
ontology (without modification) as being 
significantly shorter than that of a law or a 
medical concept.    (08)

>I don't claim that automated reasoning can somehow discover the
>"correct" result in cases like this, but rather that you might want to
>accept that some situations are "like" motherhood.    (09)

Im sure many are, yes.    (010)

>   What do you do
>with that?  Well, you might simply want to kick out these cases to
>humans (specifically lawyers :-) ) rather than blithely assume your
>categorization deals with them correctly.    (011)

Not sure about 'blithely' here. I would hope that 
in cases like this, if it matters, that the 
lawyers were involved in the ontology-writing 
process.    (012)

>>  ...To cover all the possibilities you describe 
>>evidently requires some care in choosing
>>  these and some more care in describing their 
>>relationships: an adequate ontology for
>>  'mother' in all its complexity will be quite intricate.
>It seems unreasonably ambitious to believe that you can describe all
>these relationships completely for all time.    (013)

Not for all time, no. But for the cases you 
described, it doesn't seem impossible. 
Complicated, but not impossible.    (014)

>  At the same time, it
>seems that you're throwing out useful information (not capturing a
>generalization, I guess the linguists would say) to treat
>"foster-mother" as concept 234Z34 and "surrogate mother" as concept
>P23RA4 without somehow connecting them to the concept of mother, even
>though they have almost zero characteristics in common (being female
>and having some sort of legal relationship to a child is about it).    (015)

Well, what kind of 'connection' do you think 
there is, other of course that they both use the 
English word 'mother'? But if is it felt useful, 
what one can always do in cases like this is to 
simply invent a loosely defined umbrella term and 
assert that all the precisely defined terms are 
instances of it. This is easy even in such weak 
languages as RDFS or OWL-DL.    (016)

Pat    (017)

>                 -s
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