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[ontolog-forum] Foundation Ontology Primitives

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Ian Bailey" <ian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2010 09:53:45 -0000
Message-id: <089201caa3ed$9ddf3c70$d99db550$@com>
Hi Pat (I won't qualify which Pat, as I'm pretty sure the other one has me
on his filter list),    (01)

In the thread that's been running, you indicate that you believe there are
some common ontic primitives that can be shared across multiple ontologies -
e.g. as a foundation. Do you have a clear idea of what these might be ?
(some examples would really help my understanding).     (02)

If I have an issue with this idea, it is one of pragmatism. As an
aspiration, a common foundation ontology is something I would really
support. There seems to me to be a couple of practical problems:    (03)

* Reaching consensus - ontology is a topic that attracts people with strong
opinions. Consensus requires compromise, and I don't see much of that going
on in this community. In my experience of developing ISO standards, it
usually requires a commercial reward to ensure true consensus is met - i.e.
they all (well, most) stop bickering if they can see some profitability in
not bickering. I don't think ontology is at the maturity level where huge
sums of money depend on its success or failure, so I fear consensus is going
to be nigh impossible.    (04)

* Metaphysical choices - most serious ontologists are aware of the
metaphysical choices (i.e. the ground rules) of their ontology. This
involves questions of how time is managed (3D, 4D Endurant, 4D Perdurant,
etc.), whether the ontology is extensional or intensional (both for class
membership, and how spatial/temporal extents are handled), and whether the
ontology is first order or higher order.     (05)

The first problem may be overcome by shear will - if enough people take a
positive approach and really want to get it done, it might happen. The
second issue is much more thorny, and that's why I asked what you thought
the primitives were. I once suggested a set of ontic categories on this
forum and was soundly thrashed for it, so I'd understand if you want to send
them off-list. Also, getting a clearer idea of what choices all the major
ontologies took might give us a better idea what common primitives are
possible. Again, if folks want to send that to me off-list, I'll collate it
all anonymously and post it back. God forbid we should actually use the
forum to discuss any real ontologies.     (06)

Ian Bailey
ian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (07)

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