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Re: [ontolog-forum] Endurantism and Perdurantism - Re: Some Comments on

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Matthew West" <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 07:40:57 -0000
Message-id: <004401d06218$0a0c4da0$1e24e8e0$@gmail.com>
Dear Chris,    (01)

<snip>    (02)

I mean obviously I see how this *could* be done, I have no problem
conceptualizing the banana as a 4D worm and the ripening process as a slice
through the worm, and I could probably come up with the required
axiomatization (there are subtleties, and some constraints imposed by OWL).
I have a harder time figuring out how to make the results practically
usable, and how to make my banana worms palatable to both the ontology
editors and users. I expect continuants would be reintroduced through the
back door, as some kind of 'maximal worm slice' 
[MW>] This is pretty much it. If you think about your endurantist object, it
probably has a start and end date of its life, and these are the start and
end date of what I would call the "whole life " object. You other slices (I
would call them states to use more familiar language) are states of the
whole life object (they can't be states of the endurantist object because
they cannot have states). The relationship is actually whole part, and in
particular temporal whole part (all for the space for some of the time).
Anything that can be said about the endurantist object can be said about the
whole life object, so the endurantist object is in principle redundant.
Indeed if you associate states with an endurantist object, you have
essentially converted it to a 4D whole life object (rather than combining
the approaches.    (03)

Maybe this is just a conceptual prison we've locked ourselves into, but if
so, I'd argue this is *not* due to philosophers imposing some categorical
distinction from above, but rather through the perspectives and modalities
of different disciplines such as developmental biology and classical anatomy
and systematics.
[MW>] No, I think this is the wrong conclusion to draw. I think it is our
language and the most efficient ways of talking about things that are to
blame. A lot of the time our practical speech is about how things are now,
so a lot of our speech is presentist in nature, simply because this is the
most efficient (fewest words to convey) but this is OK because we understand
the presentist context (which computers don't necessarily). Endurantism just
extends this to passing through time.
We also quite naturally at other times talk about states, many of us will
have complained about the state of our teenage children's rooms, or
reminisced about our teenage years (perhaps both at the same time). We
switch between these different ways of speaking about things without
worrying about the inconsistency of these different expressions because we
don't appreciate the commitments that are implicit in these different modes
of speech and we don't have to check what we are saying with a reasoner. It
is the same world we are talking about in the end.
I do think the philosophers are responsible for endurantism. They analysed
the way we speak about the world, rather than how the world is, and
formalised that. I despair.
If you don't want states (your domain has no talk about phases or stages or
states of things) then you lose nothing by using an endurantist ontology. If
it does, then if you insist on including endurantist objects as well then
you need a whole life object as well as an endurantist object and a
relationship that says that one is the life of the other, and it is this
duplication that is the price you pay for including both (and having to
navigate this to get a complete picture). I can only think that it is
philosophical dogma that would cause you to do this, rather than abandon the
endurantist object and transfer its attributes and relationships to the
whole life object and adopt a 4D position.    (04)

> All of these and many more can be viewed in either way; and 
> prohibiting this, forcing users to make an artificial distinction 
> between the flame-thing and the flame-process, serves no useful 
> purpose. The point is not that the distinction is bad, but that being
> *forced* to make it can be harmful, or at the very least, 
> time-wasting.    (05)

Conversely, being denied the framework to make useful distinctions may be
harmful and time-wasting.
[MW>] This argument is not really about a distinction, no one (well at least
not me) is arguing that you cannot have both physical objects and activities
in your ontology, the question is whether they are mutually exclusive or
not. That is a constraint. Endurantism has the belief/insistence that this
constraint is always true. If you find that it is not always true, then it
is unhelpful to insist on it, because when it is untrue you will have extra
work to do to work round on it. That extra work is what I have described
above.    (06)

Regards    (07)

Matthew West                            
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