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Re: [ontolog-forum] Modeling a money transferring scenario

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 13:35:31 -0500
Message-id: <4D2CA2F3.8040608@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ron and Ronald,    (01)

> This discussion is heading for the breakdown that seems to plague every
> discussion of Ontology.    (02)

I agree.  But there is a fundamental reason why it is breaking down.    (03)

> I sometimes wonder if ontological discussions should be limited to a
> week before they have to be moved to a formal tool.    (04)

No formalism can resolve a conceptual confusion.  The best it can do
is to show that there is a confusion.  The resolution requires some
preformal analysis of the issues to determine what can be formalized
and how it should be represented formally.    (05)

In particular, anything that involves human intentions -- which
includes any kind of giving -- requires a formal analysis of
intentionality as a prerequisite.  As Peirce showed, all such
issues involve irreducible triadic links -- and sometimes multiple
triads in a complex transaction.    (06)

> The word 'money' has many different meanings.  For our society,
> the 3% of official money-tokens have quite different meanings
> from the 97% of credit/debt-tokens issued by banks.
> That is a really serious semantic problem.    (07)

Money itself is an abstraction from of bartering, which involves
two interrelated acts of giving.  When you get to banknotes, the
levels of abstraction and interconnected triads become mind boggling.    (08)

As one of the simpler examples, consider the verb 'give', which
has three obligatory participants:    (09)

  1. An agent that intends to perform some transfer.    (010)

  2. An entity that is being transferred.    (011)

  3. A recipient that receives the entity.    (012)

Any attempt to replace the single verb 'give' by two dyadic
relations will lose the intentional connection.  And any attempt
to "reify" the verb by converting it to a noun will still
involve an irreducible triad.  See the following diagram:    (013)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/figs/give.gif    (014)

On left is a diagram that shows a triadic relation labeled 'Gives'
that links three participants:  a person Sue, a book, and a child.
It represents the sentence "Sue gives a child a book."    (015)

On the right is a diagram that shows a box labeled 'Give' that
is connected by three diadic relations:  (Agnt) links [Give] to
the agent [Person: Sue]; (Thme) links [Give] to the theme [Book];
and (Rcpt) links [Give] to the recipient [Child].    (016)

But lo and behold:  There is still a triadic connection to the
box labeled [Give] instead of the oval labeled (Gives).  There
is no way to eliminate the irreducible triad without losing
the intentional connection.    (017)

Since Searle was mentioned earlier in this thread, following
is a debate between Barry Smith and John Searle about "The
Construction of Social Reality":    (018)

    http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/searle.PDF    (019)

And following is a passage from an article in which I discuss
both of their positions from a Peircean point of view (which
is a generalization that subsumes Searle's as a special case).    (020)

_______________________________________________________________    (021)

Source: http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf  (pp. 7-8)    (022)

3. Semiotic Foundations    (023)

Tarski semantics for first-order logic depends on a dyadic 
correspondence between some pattern of symbols stated in a formal 
language and some pattern of objects and relations that exist in a 
model. Such correspondences can answer several important kinds of 
questions about an object, an event, or a situation:  What is it?  What 
are its properties?  What is it made of?  And how is it related to other 
things?    (024)

But there's one kind of question that no amount of observation can 
answer with certainty:  those that begin with the word 'why'. For modal 
logic, no observations can explain why some pattern in the world might 
be necessary, possible, or impossible. For the behavior of humans and 
other animals, no observation can explain why they happen to perform one 
action rather than another. A thoughtful observer might be able to guess 
the reasons for their actions based on an analogy with his or her own 
experience, but the intentions themselves are not directly observable.    (025)

Since humans can talk, the best way to determine their intentions is not 
to observe and classify worlds or situations, but just to ask them. But 
to take that option is an admission that Carnap's attempt to reduce 
mental phenomena to observable data about behavior has failed.    (026)

Among the philosophers who believe that Carnap's approach was a dead 
end, Searle (1983) claimed that the semantics of natural language, at 
least for language about anything dealing with intentionality, depends 
critically on the nature of the mind:    (027)

     The capacity of speech acts to represent objects and states
     of affairs in the world is an extension of the more biologically
     fundamental capacities of the mind (or brain) to relate the
     organism to the world by way of such mental states as belief
     and desire, and especially through action and perception.
     Since speech acts are a type of human action, and since the
     capacity of speech to represent objects and states of affairs
     is part of a more general capacity of the mind to relate the
     organism to the world, any complete account of speech and
     language requires an account of how the mind/brain relates
     the organism to reality. (p. vii)    (028)

In the concluding chapter, Searle claimed "there really are such things 
as intrinsic mental phenomena which cannot be reduced to something else 
or be eliminated by some kind of re-definition. There really are pains, 
tickles, and itches, beliefs, fears, hopes, desires, perceptual 
experiences, experiences of acting, thoughts, feelings, and all the 
rest" (p. 262). In the middle of the book, Searle formalized some of the 
discussion in formulas of the following kind, where p represents a 
proposition that describes some action or state (p. 32):    (029)

     Sorry(p)  →  Bel(p)  &  Des(~p).    (030)

This formula says that if some person x is sorry for the state of 
affairs described by p, then x believes p and x desires that p not be 
true. Since Searle claimed that mental attitudes such as sorrow, belief, 
and desire actually exist, each of his monadic predicates could be 
expanded to a triadic relation named Experience, which explicitly 
relates the agent to the attitude and the proposition:    (031)

     Sorry(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Sorrow)Experience(x,y,p).    (032)

     Bel(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Belief)Experience(x,y,p).    (033)

     Des(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Desire)Experience(x,y,p).    (034)

The first formula says that the predicate Sorry about p implies the 
existence of a person x and an instance of sorrow y, which x experiences 
about p. Similarly, the second and third formulas relate the predicates 
Bel and Des to instances of belief and desire, which x experiences about 
p. In a later book, Searle (1995) was more explicit in using triadic 
relations to describe social relations. All his triads had the form    (035)

     X counts as Y in context C.    (036)

Searle's implicit or explicit triads for describing intentions are 
incompatible with Smith's attempt to avoid any commitment to mental 
phenomena. In a public debate (Smith & Searle 2001), Smith tried to 
interpret Searle's constructions in terms of his own ontology, which 
does not admit the existence of intentions. Searle replied    (037)

     I think in the end he makes many useful points, but I also
     believe that he misunderstands me in certain very profound ways.
     I believe his misunderstandings derive from the fact that he
     approaches this topic with a set of concerns that are fundamentally
     different from mine, and in consequence, he tends to take my views
     as attempts to answer his questions rather than attempts to answer
     my questions.    (038)

Searle recognized that relations that refer to intentions have greater 
power and flexibility than Smith's partOf relation. Smith criticized 
that flexibility as too loose and imprecise and noted that a context 
itself is a social object that requires some independent definition. 
Both authors made valid points:  Searle's book demonstrates the 
fundamental role of intentions in creating and sustaining social 
relationships, but Smith's criticism shows the need for clear 
distinctions and greater precision.    (039)

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