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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 13:32:11 -0500
Message-id: <60758001-72F0-4B95-9B19-67CF44044681@xxxxxxxx>
On Mar 15, 2010, at 12:05 PM, Cory Casanave wrote:
> I look forward to the full report (and hope you will continue to post on
> the architecture ecosystem).
> One comment, re: Adding a contradiction to any consistent theory causes
> it to degenerate to the absurd theory.
> One pragmatic reality of architectural work is that theories do not agree. 
>Particularly in the realm of business related modeling there are clearly 
>different interpretations and opinions about the same thing.  So we have 
>seemingly conflicting theories but we agree that the theories describe the 
>same entities that exist or may exist. Such conflicting theories are normal 
>and even desirable in our discourse.    (01)

Absolutely.    (02)

> One capability that a knowledge technology should be able to provide is the 
>identification of these conflicts and the source of assertions and conflicts.    (03)

Yes, that is one thing that one hopes to get out of (among other things) the 
use of automated reasoning tools.    (04)

> One thing that this requires is the ability to assert that 2 symbols 
>represent the same entities or concepts, yet may make very different (and 
>perhaps conflicting) assertions about these entities. In the OWL world, sameAs 
>is frequently used for this, but sameAs seems to strong a commitment.    (05)

There is nothing that I can see in the semantics of "owl:sameAs" that would 
enable it to be used to indicate that two different symbols "may make very 
different (and perhaps conflicting) assertions" about about their denotations.  
From the OWL reference document:  "owl:sameAs is used to state that two URI 
references refer to the same individual."  If, in fact, two URI references are 
used to say things that cannot be true of one and the same thing, then 
declaring one to be "owl:sameAs" the other will simply lead to logical 
inconsistency, i.e., absurdity, full stop.  The only way to avoid it is to 
withdraw the assertion or alter what is said about the individual in question 
by means of those URI references.    (06)

> EquivelentClass is closer,...    (07)

I don't see how.  "<A owl:equivalentClass B>" means nothing more or less than 
that the classes A and B (or, if you like, the classes referred to by the names 
"A" and "B") have the same members.  Again, there is nothing there that could 
be exploited to indicate that "very different (and perhaps conflicting) 
assertions" are being made using those names.    (08)

> In summary, when using ontologies to represent architectures we should 
>embrace conflict ...    (09)

I think there is an important ambiguity here.  One should certainly "embrace 
conflict" in the sense that one should acknowledge the fact that there 
different outlooks and opinions and that dialog between communities with 
different outlooks and opinions can lead to rich and fruitful results.  One 
should certainly *not* embrace conflict in the sense of allowing logical 
inconsistency within an ontology.    (010)

> and not consider conflicting theories as absurd.    (011)

Are you suggesting someone has?  No one has suggested that, if T1 and T2 are 
*jointly* absurd (i.e., if their union is logically inconsistent), then T1 and 
T2 are *individually* absurd.  The only that would be absurd would be to merge 
incompatible theories without resolving the conflict (which, as you note, might 
require dialog between the advocates of the theories).    (012)

> Conflict is an indication of differing opinions and interpretations, both 
>normal and expected conditions of dialog.      (013)

Of course.    (014)

> This differs from the logical or mathematical pragmatics where any 
>inconsistency is an error.    (015)

I'm not certain what you mean by "logical or mathematical pragmatics" but in 
any context "error" is a psychological notion that is of at most sociological, 
historical, or legal significance.  The only important point for purposes here, 
it seems to me, is that, in any context, logical inconsistency ("absurdity" in 
John's technical sense) is something that must be avoided in one's final 
product and removed (as far as possible) if detected.  This is all quite 
compatible with your entirely correct remarks about the reality of diverse 
outlooks and opinions, the importance of dialog in resolving conflict, etc etc.    (016)

Chris Menzel    (017)

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