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Re: [ontolog-forum] RDF & RDFS (was... Is there something I missed?)

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Matthew West <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2009 12:02:03 -0600
Message-id: <5BF061D5-6343-4279-8469-41FE602650BA@xxxxxxx>

On Feb 6, 2009, at 1:28 AM, Matthew West wrote:

Dear Pat,
PS - I'm not sure about where this idea of a mental model of an ontology
came from. I never mentioned it, and I certainly don't have an ontology in
my head. Of course the ontology has to be represented in some way - CL,
RDFS, OWL, UML, EXPRESS, arse-barcodes, who cares ?
What is this thing that is in common between al these different file formats? Where is it, if not in your head?  This is rather like the old chestnut of saying what exactly a program is, if you can write the 'same' program in several wildly different programming languages. For example, quicksort can be implemented in just about any programming language, and its still quicksort. In CS we have the useful distinction between algorithm and program, maybe we need a similar terminological distinction for ontologies. Any suggestions?
[MW] Ok. So is the quicksort program in your head the same as the quicksort program in my head (I even remember writing one once in Basic)? Talking about what is in someone’s head just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid. It is at best a loose way of talking.

Speaking as a card-carrying cognitive scientist, I have to disagree. We have to be taking intuitions seriously here. They are our prime, perhaps our only, source of guidance when writing formal theories. 

I think that fear of talking about intuitions is a residue of the intellectual blight caused by behaviorist psychology. Ironically, behaviorism has been a rejected methodology in psychology for about 30 years now, but the news of its demise seems not to have reached everywhere else yet.  

Where you have several things that have something in common, what you do have is an abstraction, and my extensional analysis would make that a class.

Fine, but that says nothing. Any set of things is a class: but a class containing, say, a C++ implementaiton of Quicksort and a LISP implementation of a parser, isn't any kind of algorithmic abstraction. What makes some classes useful is that their instances have something in common: and that thing that they have in common has to be more than just being in the same class, to avoid circularity. 

So if I have 5 copies of the same content

There, that will do. Its the content that they have in common. 

, there is a class that represents the pattern

or is the pattern?  See my point? Its impossible to avoid talking of this thing-in-common, whatever it is. Maybe we should face up to this need, and agree on a common terminology. 


that is common to those 5 files. And if I have the “same” ontology that is represented in different languages, then there is  a class that represents that sameness.
Matthew West                           
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