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Re: [ontolog-forum] Person, Boy, Man

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ali H <asaegyn@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2014 15:13:48 -0500
Message-id: <CADr70E0tYY=67sre75gD89uyGdLd2oAcwiqfyJyxqSaBpwcYPg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi John,

Two quick comments.

On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM, John McClure <jmcclure@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Take a Person for example, with subclasses Boy and Man. [MW>] The main problem with this is that Boy and Man are not subtypes of person. For Boy and Man to be subtypes of Person, each Boy is a Person, and each Man is a (different) Person. What would be correct is that Boy and Man a subtypes of StateOfPerson, and that each StateOfPerson is a temporalPart of a Person.
To most people, and dictionaries, Boy and Man are subtypes of Person. Second, should a KB contain both a Boy & Man resource about a given individual, owl:sameAs would be used to indicate their equivalence otherwise, yes, they would be a different person, as they should be.

First, you might want to take a look at the Ontoclean paper [1],[2]. In this view, Boy is not Rigid, and hence not recommended to be related to a Person via a subtype relationship.
Third, StateofPerson is a wholly artificial term, lacking both practical merit and semantic credibility. Fourth, this is a fine example of ontologists' implicit saintliness modelling 'concepts' not 'language'.

Secondly, from your posts to this forum, this (the privileging or equating ontology to language) seems to be a major point of departure from your perspective and (I suspect) many ontologists on the list. Langauge and ontology are not the same things. While language may contain many clues as to how ontologically model something, it is only that - a clue. Different cultures and different languages refer to the world in different ways. While tempting, equating language clues with ontology can be incredibly misleading. A great example is provided by Guarino with respect to the use of "on" and "above" in English, versus the various Italian formulations for how something can be "on" another [3].

I further suspect while you might continue to argue that language (and for some reason, the English language) is somehow onotlogically privileged, I suspect the majority of ontologists have come to at least the following conclusions:
  1. Ontology != Language
  2. There are serious limits to linguistic clues in building an ontology
From my own perspective, I think that different languages provide wonderful windows and insights as to how different cultures may conceptualize their experiences, and the choices that different languages make may priveliging one experiential component over another [4]. Wade Davis gave an incredibly poignant Ted talk on this topic[5], highlighting how each culture, and each language deploys its own way of describing their experiences and how things relate to one another. It seems a bit hubristic to assert that one view is necessarily priviliged in all contexts over others, and herein lies the major flaw of equating any one language with ontology. As John Sowa would also quickly point out, Wittgenstein noted that we constantly engage in a variety of language games to communicate different pheonomena or choreograph different interactions [6].

[4] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
[5] http://www.ted.com/talks/wade_davis_on_endangered_cultures.html
[6] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein/#Lan

(•`'·.¸(`'·.¸(•)¸.·'´)¸.·'´•) .,.,

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