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

To: "doug@xxxxxxxxxx" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barkmeyer, Edward J" <edward.barkmeyer@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 16:51:32 +0000
Message-id: <b8e1862e56c64c66bd233516021eb515@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Matthew wrote
> > OED Has:
> > [for "boy"]
> > A male child or youth. Also: a son, irrespective of age (chiefly as
> > referred to by members of the immediate family).
> Thus a boy is a type of child
> > And for child we get:
> > A young person of either sex, usu. one below the age of puberty; a boy
> > or girl.
>     (01)

Doug wrote:
> Thus a child is a type of person, specifically one to which the modifier
> "young"  applies.    (02)

Matthew said:
> > In neither case does it say that a child is a subtype of person.    (03)

Doug replied:
> The OED does not use the word "subtype" or even "type" in its definitions.
> The OED does not even use sentences in its definitions, so to a purist, i 
> the definitions of the OED mean nothing since they are not assertions.
> However, a dictionary gives <modifier> <noun> as a definition for a term, as
> long as the modifier isn't negatory ("former", "artificial", ...) the meaning 
> the definition is "an instance of <word> is an instance of <noun> specifically
> an instance of <modifier> <noun>".  Thus the class of all <word> is a subtype
> of the class of all <noun>.    (04)

For those of you who are all about the understanding of natural language, this 
is an important point.  According to ISO 1087-1 (a standard for writing 
definitions in standards), the definition of a 'concept' term identifies a 
broader class of thing and states the delimiting characteristics (necessary and 
sufficient conditions) for the narrower concept being defined.    (05)

The OED definition of 'child' fits that pattern:  a person who is young, 
usually below the age of puberty.    (06)

SKOS goes out of its way to say that 'narrower concept' is not necessarily 
'rdfs:subtype', but that is because its intended audience is permitted to use 
the term "approximately" and much of its audience does not, as I came to 
discover, understand the idea 'necessary and sufficient conditions' (a 
mathematics term) or 'delimiting characteristics'.    (07)

I think Matthew is arguing that a TemporalPart of a Person is a somewhat 
different notion of 'narrower concept', without being a subtype.  There is 
nothing wrong with that view, except that it violates what Bernd Wenzel calls 
"The Law of Least Astonishment".  But this is exactly the area that this thread 
and some related ones have been discussing -- the difference between how people 
think when they use language and what the formal models of their intent 
can/should be.    (08)

-Ed    (09)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                     Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263             Work:   +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263             Mobile: +1 240-672-5800    (010)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (011)

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