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Re: [ontolog-forum] Danger of URIs in mission-critical applications

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 18:11:04 -0400
Message-id: <4A57BC78.9010603@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

PC> The above comments demonstrate a misunderstanding of the
 > function of the common Foundation Ontology- it is not to
 > force agreement on theories which are inconsistent, but to provide
 > a set of concept representations that can unambiguously describe
 > different theories in logical form, whether or not the theories
 > themselves are inconsistent.    (02)

I was assuming exactly what you're saying in that statement.    (03)

PC> The critical point is that is possible to describe inconsistent
 > theories using the same **agreed** inventory of basic terms.
 > People do that every day, and the task of the FO is to enable
 > computers to do that too.    (04)

I also agree with that.  But I was also making the point that
those two principles imply that the *definitions* of those basic
terms must have almost *zero* content.    (05)

That follows from the fact that the same words, such as 'mass',
'energy', 'force', etc., are used in contradictory ways in
different theories of physics.  If you want to use the same
words in multiple inconsistent theories, you have to strip
almost all meaning from them -- i.e., you get a very under-
specified theory with very few axioms.    (06)

I was using physics as an example because it it the most
thoroughly developed and axiomatized of all the empirical
sciences. For every other field, the situation is vastly
more disorganized and chaotic than physics.    (07)

That is why I have been proposing an upper level ontology
that has very few relations other than subtype and part-whole.
It also has very few axioms, and all important reasoning is
done in the open-ended collection of microtheories, many
of which are inconsistent with one another.    (08)

In other words, what you are left with is something like
a cleaned up and systematized WordNet at the upper levels,
and a large collection of detailed microtheories that
use the terms in the upper levels plus many specialized
terms.    (09)

But the basis for any serious inferences are *not* the
combinations of the the upper level terms, but the
low-level axioms in the low-level microtheories.    (010)

John    (011)

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