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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology similarity and accurate communication

To: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 19:01:26 -0500
Message-id: <47D71D56.2090105@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

As I have said many times, I want a barest minimum of axioms at the
upper levels.  The ideal number is ZERO.  But I'd be content with
a few is-a axioms and an occasional part-of.    (02)

PH> Ontological differences like that between 4-d temporal ontologies
 > and continuant/occurrent temporal ontologies are NOT matters of
 > detail. One CANNOT ignore or bypass these differences by simply
 > leaving them out and retreating to a weaker ontology which can then
 > be specialized to give the version one prefers. They really are
 > inherently, profoundly, INCOMPATIBLE.  Each of them makes assertions
 > at the very basic level which are simple necessary truths in one
 > view of the world and are, at the same time, nonsensical and
 > incoherent in the other view.    (03)

I completely agree.  That is one among many reasons why I don't
believe that axioms belong at the upper levels of an ontology.
My ideal for an upper-level ontology would be the barest minimum
number of axioms -- and the ideal number is 0.    (04)

For time, the only axiom I would assume is that bigger numbers
come after smaller numbers and that it's possible to associate
funny numbering systems such as "2008 03 11 18:58:14" with
points on a time line -- but different locations might have
different time lines.    (05)

PH> You are living in a dream world in which all reasonable people
 > will eventually agree....    (06)

Please don't confuse me with Pat C.  I do not believe that any
of the current schemes is going to achieve any kind of consensus.    (07)

PH> But I would hate to see yet another promising ontological
 > engineering initiative get lost in the same swamp that has
 > consumed so many others.    (08)

The points I have been making repeatedly for several years are    (09)

  1. There is no hope of getting agreement on a single universal
     upper ontology within the lifetime of any subscriber to this list.    (010)

  2. There is no reason to assume that having a single universal
     upper ontology would solve any practical problems of any kind.    (011)

  3. Even if every implementer agreed on the same universal ontology,
     there is no reason to assume that any human who interacted with
     any computer would make the same assumptions that were implemented
     in that computer system.    (012)

  4. My recommendation is a framework for an ontology *library* that
     supports a systematic set of relations among ontologies, such
     as generalization, specialization, etc.  Any message sent from
     agent A to agent B would include an identifier that specifies
     what ontology is assumed for the terms in that message.    (013)

In other words, all the axioms are at the task level, and each
message sent between systems identifies what ontology is assumed.    (014)

John    (015)

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