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Re: [ontolog-forum] Fwd: Re: Using controlled natural languages for onto

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 17:20:07 -0500
Message-id: <EAA69876-BF36-483C-9D95-EC0433370C62@xxxxxxxx>
On Mar 15, 2011, at 5:00 PM, Jerry Hobbs wrote:
> [John Sowa wrote:]
>> But Q's Word and Object was a disaster for ontology.
>> It misled a generation of poor benighted philosophers to think
>> that only physical objects (and abstract sets) were worthy
>> of an existential quantifier.
> 
> Hear! Hear!    (01)

I think what John says is a bad rap; it's definitely bad history. Quine 
certainly had his acolytes -- what powerful thinker doesn't?  But many 
philosophers did not share Quine's "taste for desert landscapes", as he 
famously expressed his preference for sparse ontologies  most notably, 
perhaps, Roderick Chisholm, who had a very rich ontology of persons, 
properties, propositions, and states of affairs.  Note also that philosophical 
debate on the classical problem of universals and particulars was very robust 
even when Quine's influence was at its peak.    (02)

As for the rap: Quine deserves great thanks for pointing out that the 
existential quantifier is the locus of ontological commitment, a general, 
methodological contribution that added great clarity to ontological 
investigation and which applies regardless of whether one's ontological tastes 
tend to the sparse or the promiscuous (this means you, Jerry! :-).  It seems to 
me this was Quine's most important and influential contribution to ontology.    (03)

-chris    (04)


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