Dear John and Pat,
I like John’s suggestion that Pat and I collaborate. Pat’s reservations must be faced. Let me suggest why and how. Here are the key passages in you recent
[JS] I would love to see Pat and Ronald collaborate to determine how Ronald's "ontological dependencies" could be reconciled with
Pat's "foundational ontology" in some realistic goals for future
[PC] I am happy to collaborate with any others who share the same goals,
but my reading of Ron's paper suggests that our goals are too different.
In particular, I disagree with the statement from Ron's “Philosophy
[RS ("Philosophy" paper)] "But by always translating one
lot of signs into another lot, we never bridge the gap between sign and
reality. We must discard the almost religious desire for purity, put our heads
above the wall separating the technical from the human aspects of information
systems, and embrace the untidiness of human beings who alone can link signs to
Why collaborate and how.
I have neglected FO issues but fully acknowledge both their importance
and difficulty. I certainly did
not intend disparage efforts to find formal methods for handling semantics (why
else would I have worked so long on my own project?), I wanted to emphasise the
limits of that approach.
The strict rules governing the semantic normal form (SNF) that arises
from the concept of ontological dependency should satisfy any formalist. We should test whether these concepts
conflict in any way with existing formal approaches to ontology (ontolog
sense); I doubt it.
The SNF helps to bridge the gap between signs and reality because it
expresses important empirical properties of perception based on the actions
that agents can perform.
The SNF can probably make a valuable contribution to formulating any
foundation ontology because of its stability over cultures and in time.
How to collaborate?
I prefer to work on concrete case materials to which we could apply both
approaches and test for points of compatibility and incongruity. This would quickly reveal whether our
goals are too far apart or not. Even
the choice of case material will be indicative.
Can you offer me a case study?
Let me suggest the “Japan Wines Inc” used by an ISO group working on conceptual
schemas. It appears in my
contribution to Falkenberg et al
(eds), 2000, Information System Concepts, Boston, Dordrecht, London, Kluwer
Academic, under the title, “Information Systems as a Social Science: An
Alternative to the FRISCO Formalism”.
Caveat: My resources of time and assistance are very