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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 09:34:26 -0500
Message-id: <1A65019E-DDFB-4793-B076-EC0C5752CA23@xxxxxxx>

On Mar 19, 2015, at 2:40 AM, Matthew West <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:    (01)

> Dear Chris,
> <snip>
> ...
> [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.     (02)

Exactly. But let me suggest that the real constraint here is that when 
something is considered to be an object or a process, then each way of thinking 
of it has to come with a particular way of formalizing it. This is completely 
unnecessary, and if this purely syntactic constraint is lifted, then the 
philosophical disagreements become just that, purely philosophical matters, 
irrelevant to the actual practice of ontology building. Ontological frameworks 
like OBO require writing things like (Relation x T) when x is a continuant and 
(Relation (stage x T)) when x is an occurrent, so they must keep a rigid 
separation between the two categories. Until one knows which category a new 
concept is in, one is quite literally unable to write even the simplest axioms 
about it, so the ontology engineering process cannot even begin. But suppose 
that these two ways of saying that R is true of x at a time T are 
interchangeable, interderivable, and have exactly the same meaning, both 
intuitively and in the Tarskian model theory, so that the choice between them 
is purely one of axiom-writers taste or convenience, a matter of ontology 
engineering aesthetics, no more. Then work can continue without resolving what 
might be a difficult and lengthy (or even meaningless) debate, and indeed can 
continue and be completed, without ever needing to resolve such a dispute. It 
no longer matters whether x is a continuant or an occurrent; and in time, I 
suspect, this distinction would simply wither and die from under-use, as having 
no bearing on the actual practice of ontology construction. Or perhaps Chris M 
is right and the distinction is critically embedded in intuitive human 
thinking: fine, by all means keep it around, if it suits you. But it need no 
longer have this arbitrary connection to syntactic axiomatic style. You can 
write (R x T) when x is a process (or an object) and you can also write (R 
(Stage xT)) when x is an object (or a process). Work can proceed while the 
philosophical dogs are barking at each other.     (03)

Pat Hayes
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phayes@xxxxxxx       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes    (04)

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