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Re: [ontolog-forum] metaphysis, semantics and the research program of on

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 09:36:04 -0500
Message-id: <4F75C4D4.5070406@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Hans,    (01)

The recent notes by Chris Menzel and me addressed just one very
important point:  Every ontology that is going to be used with any
computational system of any kind must be represented in logic or
be stated with enough precision that it can be translated to logic.    (02)

> As Rich noted, there is a blind spot here regarding other disciplines
> and perspectives that drive semantics and ontologies...    (03)

Chris and I are acutely aware of those other issues, disciplines,
and perspectives.  But as you note, there is an immense amount of
informal discussion and publication.    (04)

> In my experience with many real world systems, most of which are very
> specific (and unfortunately, implicitly so) to certain institutional
> contexts, the issue of awareness of those contexts (or lack thereof)
> and the differences between and among them are the key interoperability
> barriers...    (05)

Yes.  But without a goal of mapping that mass of stuff to logic, there
will be no detectable progress toward any useful ontology.    (06)

> So where is the formal study of the ecosystem of organizations and
> groups, how they form and interact, and how they establish contexts,
> perspectives on those contexts, and associated frames of reference?    (07)

There won't be any formal study until somebody actually does the work.
Accumulating a long thread of informal notes will just add another
informal heap to an already huge informal mountain.    (08)

> I'd certainly welcome any effort to improve/extend
> it and turn it into a formal ontology(ies).    (09)

Good.  A recognition of need is a start.    (010)

I would like to cite two philosophers who have made an attempt to
formalize those issues:  John Searle and Barry Smith.  Following is
a debate between them:    (011)

    The Construction of Social Reality: An Exchange    (012)

Another philosopher who mapped some related issues to logic is
Charles Sanders Peirce.  In my analysis of the debate between
Searle and Smith (copy below), I applied Peirce's categories of
Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness:    (013)

  1. Firstness is an aspect of something x that can be represented
     by a monadic relation or predicate P(x).  The definition of
     P can be stated in terms of P itself without any reference
     to or consideration of anything outside of P.  Anything that
     is called a *natural kind* such as a dog or a dandelion can be
     described by a monadic predicate P(x) that states the conditions
     for identifying x as a dog, dandelion, or other natural kind.    (014)

  2. Secondness is an aspect of something x in relation to something
     else y, which is independent of x.  It can be specified by a
     dyadic relation R(x,y).  An example is somebody considered as
     a mother, daughter, sister, employee, employer, driver, pilot,
     banker, skier, swimmer, patient, doctor, nurse...    (015)

  3. Thirdness is a triadic mediating relation that brings two or
     more other entities into some dyadic relation.  For example,
     marriage (Thirdness) brings two human beings (described by
     Firsness) into a relationship in which one plays the  role
     of husband (an aspect of Secondness) and the other plays
     the role of wife (another aspect of Secondness).    (016)

Thirdness is involved in all those examples that have been discussed
in this thread with the terms 'conceptual' or 'social'.  Among them
are all the issues concerning contracts of any kind, whether stated
in writing, concluded with a handshake, or established by a longstanding
habit or pattern of behavior.    (017)

For example, dogs and cats (animals described by Firstness) don't
normally sign a contract (Thirdness) to become a pet (Secondness).
But they become pets when somebody adopts or tames them.  Those
verbs 'adopt' and 'tame' involve Thirdness that is as binding
(morally, if not legally) as a formal contract.  Note what
Saint-Exupéry said in _The Little Prince_:    (018)

    "You become responsible forever for what you have tamed."    (019)

Responsibility, by the way, is another aspect of Thirdness, which
involves a triadic relation of somebody x with respect to something y
for some purpose z.  In general, every instance of Thirdness involves
some agent x (human, animal, or perhaps robot) who has established
a relationship to some y for some reason z.    (020)

To get back to Searle and Smith, I'm sure that both of them have
heard of Peirce, but neither of them used Peirce's framework for
their analysis.  However, Searle had independently rediscovered
the need for triadic relations, which he used in the analyses
stated in his book:    (021)

    Searle, John R. (1995), The Construction of Social Reality,
    Free Press, New York.    (022)

My criticism of Barry Smith's analysis is that he tried to use only
dyadic relations.   In their debate, I believe that Searle had a
more cogent analysis, primarily because he used a more appropriate
choice of ontological primitives.  Searle's triadic relations are
a special case of Peirce's Thirdness, and I believe he could have
strengthened his case with an application of Peirce's categories.    (023)

For more citations of Barry Smith's writings on this topic, see    (024)

    http://ontology.buffalo.edu/socob.htm    (025)

I used Google to search for summaries of Searle's book, but all I
could find is vague mush that doesn't come to grips with the logic.
One of the mushiest is the following review:    (026)

 From http://www.dooy.salford.ac.uk/ext/john.searle.html
> Searle tries to show not only that there is more than can be explained
> fully by physics and chemistry, but the diversity of what there is.
> Those who understand Dooyeweerd's aspects can immediately see that each
> of Searle's features is linked to specific Dooyeweerdian aspects:
>     'restaurant': social and biotic
>     'waiter': juridical, ethical and social
>     'sentence of French': lingual
>     'money': economic
>     'chair' and 'table': social
>     "the waiter did not actually own the beer he gave me": juridical
>     "but he is employed by the restaurant": economic
>     ".. which owned it": juridical    (027)

Dooyeweerd claimed that none of those aspects can be defined in terms
of the others.   That is probably true, but they can all be defined in
terms of Peirce's Thirdness.    (028)

In the following excerpt, I map some of Searle's representations
to triadic relations.  Similar kinds of mappings could be done
for Dooywerd's aspects.    (029)

_______________________________________________________________________    (030)

Source: http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf    (031)

3. Semiotic Foundations    (032)

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?    (033)

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. 
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.    (034)

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:    (035)

    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)    (036)

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):    (037)

     Sorry(p)  →  Bel(p)  &  Des(~p).    (038)

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:    (039)

     Sorry(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Sorrow)Experience(x,y,p).    (040)

     Bel(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Belief)Experience(x,y,p).    (041)

     Des(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Desire)Experience(x,y,p).    (042)

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    (043)

     X counts as Y in context C.    (044)

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    (045)

    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.    (046)

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.    (047)

Philosophers since Aristotle have recognized the sign relation as 
triadic. The Scholastic logicians used the Latin terms signum for the 
sign, significatio for its significance or sense, and suppositio for the 
object it refers to.    (048)

Saussure (1916) is a notable exception, who proposed a dyadic signifier 
to signified relation, which corresponds to the signum-significatio side 
of the meaning triangle, but omits Tarski's signum-suppositio or 
sign-object side. The dyadic versions by Saussure and Tarski have 
complementary weaknesses:  Tarski had a clear criterion for truth, but 
no recognition of intention.  Saussure's failure to recognize the object 
led theorists such as Derrida to endless levels of interpretation with 
no criteria for convergence.    (049)

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