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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology of Commands

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2012 15:16:34 -0400
Message-id: <4F9D9392.3010408@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Bill, Bill, Duane, John, Leo, Hans, Simon, Amanda, and Kevin,    (01)

> What is a “command” in an ontological sense?    (02)

This raises a very large number of interrelated issues:    (03)

> a command is a kind of speech act.    (04)

Yes.  But it is also very high up in any ontology of speech acts.
The traditional "big three" are declarative, interrogative, and
imperative sentence types.    (05)

Logic analyzes propositions independent of how they are used.
Computer systems do something with propositions.  For computers,
the three sentence types become the operators Tell, Ask, and Do.    (06)

An assertion tells the computer that a proposition is true (update).
A question asks whether a proposition is true (yes/no questions)
or what values can fill in the blanks of a lambda expression
(wh-questions).  A command orders the computer to do something
to cause a proposition to become true.    (07)

> Coming from the SOA world, I think a lot of it depends on the context    (08)

> In my view it makes more sense to start with a problem statement.
> ... you can only do a semantic or linguistic analysis, once you
> understand what problem is to be solved.    (09)

I strongly agree with both.  For computers and people, any speech
act only makes sense in context.  And the context depends critically
on much more than the immediate surroundings.  The goal or intention
is critical.    (010)

> Typically folks will use speech act theory and performatives as
> the basis for much of the semantics of “commands”, i.e.,  by
> getting into more of the formal pragmatics.    (011)

Yes.  But Peirce and Wittgenstein made some fundamental points
that haven't yet been accommodated.  Austin, Grice, and Searle
made important contributions, but they could have accomplished
much more if they had built on what CSP and LW had done.  See    (012)

Grice in the wake of Peirce    (013)

> That is the major reason for SLA’s in SOAs. It’s also why one
> of the Net Centric Principles is (explicit and dynamic) relationship
> management.    (014)

I agree.  But the Net Centric people did the world a big disservice
by not studying the huge amount of R & D in philosophy and AI.    (015)

> Just a follow-up. You might look at Jose Vidal’s “Agent Communication”
> briefing: http://jmvidal.cse.sc.edu/talks/agentcommunication/.    (016)

That's a good summary, but he makes a common mistake:    (017)

> Speech Acts were introduced by John Austin [8].    (018)

> The Davidsonian approach treats events as first class entities.    (019)

Austin's book is useful, but he left out more than he contributed
to the field.  Donald Davidson also made some good contributions.
But Davidson decided to do graduate study in philosophy *after*
he took Whitehead's course at Harvard.  And Whitehead's ontology
makes events the *primary* foundation for ontology.    (020)

In any case, Peirce also used quantifiers to range over events
and abstractions long before Whitehead or Davidson.    (021)

> Computer science mostly seems to have taken the position that
> only the entities that are primarily nouns in Indo-European
> lanaguages should be regared as entitites.    (022)

> I agree with you that the noun-centric approach is an error.    (023)

You can blame Quine's book _Word and Object_ for that error.
When Davidson enrolled for graduate work at Harvard, Whitehead
had just retired, and Quine wouldn't let him work on event ontology.
Davidson didn't return to event ontology until *after* he got
tenure.  Even so, the old guard philosophers like Strawson never
approved of Davidson's approach.  (He was lucky to wait until
he got tenure before writing about events.)    (024)

For more about those and related issues, see    (025)

    Signs, Processes, and Language Games    (026)

http://www.helsinki.fi/~pietarin/publications/Grice%20in%20the%20Wake%20of%20Peirce-Pietarinen.pdf    (027)

> I can assure you that the OWL partisans are only picking up where
> their UML brethren left off.    (028)

> We need to channel the good modeling intent and energy of neophytes
> into a better way of doing things.    (029)

I blame Bertrand Russell for the downfall of logic in the university
curriculum.  Every freshman from the 13th to the 19th century took
a course in logic that covered nearly everything that can be
expressed in OWL.  But Russell considered Aristotelian logic
a competitor.  He wanted universities to switch from Aristotle
to symbolic logic.    (030)

He got half his wish.  They stopped teaching Aristotle.
Now, very few students take any course on logic of any kind.    (031)

But even the logic courses focus more on math than on the issues
of mapping language to logic.  That's not much help for ontology.    (032)

John    (033)

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