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Re: [ontolog-forum] intangibles

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2009 09:06:27 -0500
Message-id: <49A2AD63.4090105@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew,    (01)

I agree with your distinction about the difference between physical
entities and abstract entities (AKA intangibles).    (02)

MW> I would not think much of any upper ontology that did not
 > support what you describe here as intangibles. The usual term
 > for what you describe as intangibles is modality, which is
 > how what is possible or could happen is treated. Possible Worlds
 > (see "On the Plurality of Worlds" David Lewis) is one approach,
 > and a natural fit with 4D, but not the only one.    (03)

But many people don't feel comfortable with David Lewis's claim
that possible worlds are "really real".  I'd like to point out
that a very clear statement of the distinction can be made
without using the term 'possible world' or even 'modality'.    (04)

As I said in earlier notes, any model theory stated in terms
of possible worlds can be restated in terms of laws and facts.
For brief summaries the semantic approach defined by the
logician Michael Dunn, see the first 3 sections of either
of the following two papers:    (05)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf    (06)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/laws.htm    (07)

Therefore, I would recommend the following characterization
of what it means for any entity (real or imaginary) to be
considered physical:    (08)

   Governed by laws or constraints that involve space, time,
   matter, or energy.    (09)

This includes all the fictitious or imaginary things in any
story (even the most outlandish science fiction).  It also
includes plans for the future, vague fears about possible
disasters, and the Gedanken experiments by physicists.    (010)

John    (011)

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