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Re: [ontolog-forum] Terminologies and Ontologies

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2011 22:11:09 -0400
Message-id: <4DBCC13D.7070306@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat and Deborah,    (01)

I think that we agree on the basic issues, but we're using words
in somewhat different ways.    (02)

> for business applications ontologies have to be more than theories.    (03)

Yes.  The theory has to be relevant to the subject matter, and it has
to say something meaningful about it.  That is why I defined an ontology
as "a theory about what exists in some domain."    (04)

> I like Matthew West's definition "the things there are and the rules
> that govern them"    (05)

That's just what I said:  "the things there are" are what exists in
some domain, and "the rules that govern them" constitute the theory.    (06)

I use the word 'theory' in the usual technical sense in logic:
the deductive closure of a set of propositions.  Those propositions
are usually called axioms, and those axioms could be stated in the
form of rules.    (07)

> We are largely in accord.    (08)

I agree, but I suggest that we distinguish a global theory of
the whole world from smaller theories about particular subjects.    (09)

> Something like: "Ontology is a general theory about the world,
> its domains, entities and relationships." "A formal ontology is
> a formal theory of the world, its domains, entities and relationships."    (010)

I wouldn't put any limits on the size of the domain -- it could be the
entire universe or just some local situation or aspect of a situation.    (011)

And I wouldn't limit an ontology to just things that currently exist.
An engineer who is designing a bridge or an airplane has to develop
a very precise theory (i.e., a set of specifications) about something
that doesn't exist.    (012)

> Reasoning in the same way, i credited to Federated/Integrated Ontology
> all three attributes: Exactness/Fomality, Descriptiveness and
> Normativeness/Prescriptiveness (giving fundamental rules and strategic
> directions).    (013)

But we have to distinguish the ontology by itself as a theory about
the world from the issues of what somebody might want to do with it.    (014)

A scientist and an engineer, for example, might use the same theory
for different purposes:  (1) as a means for discovering new knowledge,
or (2) as an application of current knowledge for the purpose of
designing a bridge or an airplane.    (015)

Then a project manager who hired the engineer could take the theory
(specification) of the bridge and use it in a normative sense to
require contractors to build parts as described by the theory.    (016)

The normative aspect does not originate in the theory itself,
but in a contract that can be enforced in a court of law.    (017)

John    (018)

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