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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Hans Polzer" <hpolzer@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 20:04:04 -0400
Message-id: <02b101cd0ed1$c95e3300$5c1a9900$@verizon.net>
John,    (01)

Thank you for the extensive and thoughtful response, and the useful references. 
I've heard of Searle and have had some interaction with Barry Smith, but am not 
familiar with their writings. I'll take a look at your references.    (02)

I certainly agree that logic is required to represent ontologies for use in 
computational systems. The points I have been trying to make are twofold. 
First, we need a way to represent the context and scope of that context in 
which an ontology is expected to be useful (I deliberately am avoiding the use 
of words such as correct or validated). Second, humans interact with each other 
not only as individuals, but as members of groups and institutions. This has a 
major influence on the context of speech acts between individuals and even more 
between computer systems. And most computer systems (and humans, too, albeit 
less so), assume specific institutional contexts (mostly because institutions 
fund their development and constrain their operation). I'm advocating more 
explicit representation of contexts and scope in computer systems, especially 
institutional contexts, and in any ontologies they use.    (03)

Hans    (04)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2012 10:36 AM
To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] metaphysis, semantics and the research program of 
ontologies    (05)

Hans,    (06)

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.    (07)

> As Rich noted, there is a blind spot here regarding other disciplines 
> and perspectives that drive semantics and ontologies...    (08)

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.    (09)

> 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...    (010)

Yes.  But without a goal of mapping that mass of stuff to logic, there will be 
no detectable progress toward any useful ontology.    (011)

> 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?    (012)

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.    (013)

> I'd certainly welcome any effort to improve/extend it and turn it into 
> a formal ontology(ies).    (014)

Good.  A recognition of need is a start.    (015)

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:    (016)

    The Construction of Social Reality: An Exchange    (017)

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:    (018)

  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.    (019)

  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...    (020)

  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).    (021)

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.    (022)

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_:    (023)

    "You become responsible forever for what you have tamed."    (024)

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.    (025)

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:    (026)

    Searle, John R. (1995), The Construction of Social Reality,
    Free Press, New York.    (027)

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.    (028)

For more citations of Barry Smith's writings on this topic, see    (029)

    http://ontology.buffalo.edu/socob.htm    (030)

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:    (031)

 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    (032)

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.    (033)

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.    (034)

_______________________________________________________________________    (035)

Source: http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf    (036)

3. Semiotic Foundations    (037)

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?    (038)

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.    (039)

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:    (040)

    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)    (041)

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):    (042)

     Sorry(p)  →  Bel(p)  &  Des(~p).    (043)

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:    (044)

     Sorry(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Sorrow)Experience(x,y,p).    (045)

     Bel(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Belief)Experience(x,y,p).    (046)

     Des(p)  →  (∃x:Person)(∃y:Desire)Experience(x,y,p).    (047)

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    (048)

     X counts as Y in context C.    (049)

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    (050)

    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.    (051)

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.    (052)

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.    (053)

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.    (054)

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