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Re: [ontolog-forum] Partial interest ontology

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2011 09:33:43 -0400
Message-id: <4E58F237.7020401@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Doug, Azamat, and Rich,    (01)

> I defined an interest as a type of situation in the ontology.    (02)

A situation is physical, and a situation type is an abstract pattern
that can be used to classify situations.  You might find situations
in which some agent is acting in its own self interest, but it is
very difficult (I believe impossible) to find observable features
that could classify all such situations.    (03)

This is the kind of issue that Barry Smith and John Searle debated
in discussing "Social Reality".  For the record, following are
the URLs for that debate and my comments about them:    (04)

Smith & Searle: http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/dksearle.htm    (05)

My comments (section 3): http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf    (06)

> The problem with defining [interest] as a form of reason is the common
> idea that certain people don't know what their interests really are.    (07)

That is why I prefer to use semiotics, including biosemiotics, as a
foundation.  A bacterium normally acts in its own self interest, but
it certainly doesn't have any conscious idea about what it does.    (08)

But by careful observations and controlled experiments, scientists
can formulate and test hypotheses about self interest in any living
thing (including humans) and determine when they act accordingly.    (09)

However, that determination of intentionality is always an inference
that requires much more information than just a snapshot (or even
a movie) of the situation in which it occurred.    (010)

Example:  Consider the problem of determining an agent's intentions
in order to classify an instance of killing as manslaughter,
self-defense, first-degree murder, or second-degree murder.    (011)

> It's necessary to define if an interest is a form of reason,
> a final cause, the sake, goal, end, result or objective to
> pursue and obtain.    (012)

These are issues that philosophers have been debating for centuries.
I'm currently preparing a talk "Foundations for Ontology" (abstract
below).  When I return from the conference, I'll post the slides
and add some further comments.    (013)

> Not everyone has the same background (thank goodness,
> or we would all dress alike).    (014)

You brought up many issues in your note, but this one summarizes
a fundamental problem that affects all of them:  Different people
have widely divergent views about nearly everything.  Yet they
can successfully collaborate on specific tasks, even though
there is no way to reconcile all their beliefs.    (015)

I say something about that in slides 62 to 67 of    (016)

    Integrating Semantic Systems    (017)

But there is, of course, much more to be said.    (018)

_____________________________________________________________    (019)

Foundations for Ontology    (020)

Ontology is the study of existence, but an ontology is a collection
of categories for representing and reasoning about aspects of existence.
Over the centuries, philosophers have explored different foundations
for their theories of ontology:  physics, metaphysics, biology,
psychology, linguistics, logic, and semiotics.  Aristotle discussed all
these topics in connection with his categories, but later philosophers
have usually narrowed their focus.  C. S. Peirce claimed that semiotics
is the most general, since every approach uses signs and systems of
signs to discover, interpret, relate, communicate, and reason about the
categories of an ontology.  With a broad definition of sign, a semiotic
foundation can relate and integrate the usual methods for specifying
categories.  But it can also support novel methods of definition, such
as prototypes, virtual reality, and dynamic simulations.    (021)

To be presented at the following conference:    (022)

http://inf.ufrgs.br/ontobras-most2011/?q=pt-br/node/48    (023)

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