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Re: [ontolog-forum] intangibles (was RE: Why most classifications are fu

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 06:02:59 -0400 (EDT)
Message-id: <3141a6b666ad157bd209cc0dfe97d9e6.squirrel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>


That is an excellent point:

> I have to say that your animus toward worlds strikes me as a bit too

> ideologically driven. Isn't the only interesting question whether worlds
> are useful for representing the kinds of information that ontological
> engineers want to represent?

My irritation, which I hope is coming through loud and clear, is about philosophers who constantly talk about possible worlds, but never mention the fact that Dunn's method is formally equivalent to Kripke's.

My second reason for irritation is that the engineers and ontologists never implement K's semantics.  They always implement laws and facts that are much, much closer to D's method.  Anybody who teaches them modal semantics has an obligation to explain that point to them.

The fact that D & K provide isomorphic specifications does not imply that they are equally useful for all practical purposes.  Every major programming language is equivalent to a Turing machine, but that doesn't mean that they don't provide anything useful.

As I said, I would be very happy with textbooks that present Kripke's method and Dunn's method and  show their equivalence.  I wouldn't even mind if the authors of those textbooks expressed a preference for K's method.

But the simple fact is that *every* computer implementation tacitly uses a method that is closer to Dunn than to Kriple.  It is pedagogical malpractice to ignore that fact, especially when teaching students are more likely to implement something very much like Dunn's method.

Furthermore, Dunn's method is much easier to teach to students.  That mysterious accessibility relation is assumed as a given in K's semantics. But in D's semantics, it is derivable from the laws and facts.  In effect, D's method is an intensional specification, which mas more "meaning" (or content or info) than K's.

In K's method, you cannot answer any question that begins with the word 'why'.  But in D's method, you can answer such questions in terms of the laws and facts -- and in terms of the source of those laws and facts.  Did they come from observation?  From physics?  From some legislative body?  From stipulation?  From some hypothesis?

I must admit that I used to be impressed by discussions like Lewis's.  But after I started to use Dunn's approach, I realized that all the talky-talky "metaphysics" about worlds could be clarified by translating it to descriptions and specifications in Dunn's terms.

I suggest that you try the exercise.  Whether or not you come to agree with me (and Dunn), the exercise would certainly be worth a publishable paper.


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