Dear Chris Menzel
You quoted me:
RS: In our MEASUR methods we use only the words of the users.
invented vaguely word-like
strings one finds in OWL, for example,
are not permitted.
For some purposes, that might be quite appropriate. However,
something like the "vaguely word-like
strings one finds in OWL" are
indispensable if you are interested in (a)
sharing your ontologies in
a standardized fashion on the Web or (b)
being able to take advantage
of powerful computer-based tools to manage
and reason upon ontologies
generally. Are you not interested in
Indeed I am but the human users take precedence, in my opinion.
RS: 'Listening in' to the ontolog discussions I sense a
belief that logic and formal
methods will solve the problems of
CM: I doubt there is a single person who
participates in this forum who
thinks that. What many here do believe
is that logic and formal
methods are *necessary* to the solution of
the problems of ontology
development. No one believes they are
sufficient in and of themselves.
I take your word for that but the tone of some discussions made me
suspicious. I am accustomed to
using ‘ontology’ in the metaphysical sense where formal methods are of
RS: I am all for formal precision once we are sure we have fully
what we need to be formal and
Well, sure, if all that means is that we have to clearly circumscribe
the intended domain of an ontology.
But a major point of introducing
formal methods, once we are clear about the
domain, is to make
concepts out of ordinary discourse that are
initially vague and
ambiguous clear and precise.
RS: That suggests that we can clear up the
meanings we find in ‘ordinary discourse’ (which naturally is defective?) using
formal methods. I find that,
although formal methods help during the intermediate stages of analysis, they
cannot finally remove all defects and ultimately one must rely upon the relevant
people for their judgements.
I thought that the age of
logicism had closed by mid-20th century.
CM: Logicism, a creation of the German
mathematician Gottlob Frege in the
late 1800s, was an attempt to
"ground" all of mathematics on logical
principles alone. Bertrand Russell
torpedoed Frege's attempt around
the turn of the 19th century by showing that
it was possible to deduce
his famous paradox in Frege's system.
Russell's own attempt to
resurrect logicism in Principia Mathematica
(1910-1913, with co-author
A. N. Whitehead) also largely ended in
failure, a fact widely
acknowledged by the mid-1920s.
"Logicism" is also sometimes used to
refer to the logic-based approach to AI and
which didn't even exist until the mid-20th
century. And this movement
is of course still very robust.
True! But the tone of much
ontolog discussion suggests that the attitudes of the logicists are still
hierarchies that play such an important role in OWL 'ontologies' play only a
minor role in our schemas because they are forms of cognitive norms without ontological
importance. We use them to make some schemas rather more succinct.
Why the ironic quotes around 'ontologies'?
Because of a deep personal prejudice against using ‘ontology’ in the
ontolog sense I would feel dishonest to omit them. Putting ‘ontology’ before ontology is putting the cart
before the horse.
Do you have any arguments (beyond the mere observation that they simply
have no role to play in your own approach) to suggest that OWL ontologies, even
those that are only type hierarchies, don't deserve the label?
I’m sure they deserve the label if understood in its established ontolog
sense. But I would like to see a
clear, explicit statement of the ontological assumptions on which OWL is
based. Can you provide one?
I have placed two papers on a
very amateurish website: www.rstamper.co.uk
This URL is broken.
And I am mortified and full of apologies. When I have the chance I shall attend to the problem.