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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: William Frank <williamf.frank@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2015 09:41:16 -0400
Message-id: <CALuUwtChYvCvSy4cAmqDznyX_W3hgYhcz2gsFr12=c3aoGJE=g@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Here is another root of the problem with engineering ontologies:

The idea that our concepts are organized in HIERARCHIES.    This is false. The analogy with biological hierachies has been the pied piper of engineering ontology since its beginnings in 0-0 programming, ignoring the real advances in the area made in library science and in enterprise data modelling. 

Boilogical hierachies are ***not conceptual categories at all** the are discovered, extended, and modified as part of a science.   

And, when conflate this with conceptual categories, by starting with a 'upper ontology' that divides things into categories of being, that more or less map to the possible grammatical categories we find in multiple languages, you get a deep awkward hierarchy.   Awkward because these categories providing *logical, a priori constraints*, such as processes don't have weights, while physical objects do, not scientific principles. 
 with a grounding in domain knowledge.   (If you were taking a biology course, and were taught that processes don't have weights, and I had an inquiring, independent mind, wouldn't you wonder?)

For examples, Mark Twain said: 'I once tried to read a book in German, but I never found out what it was about, because when I got to the last chapter, it was missing, and that is where all the verbs were."  And, a nameless big mutual fund used the REA accounting model as an upper ontology to design their whole enterprise data model into three hierachies: one for assets, one for events, and one for parties, and then implemented it this way.  So, when they wanted to deal with selling (event) a customer (party) a bond (asset), they had to pull things together from very disparate conceptual organizations.

This is what happens:
On Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 3:20 PM, Chris Mungall <cjmungall@xxxxxxx> wrote:
I have seen this kind of thing
with other upper level categories. For example, I've seen ontologies
where a 'disposition' hierarchy mirrors a process hierarchy. I can see
how it would be very possible to do the same kind of thing with an
object vs process distinction.

The categories of being **chosen** for an upper ontology are best used as **aspects** of the thingees (see Barabara Hall Partee) that provide high level semantic rules, which could, for example in UML, be represented as stereotypes, or any other way we want to distinguish the domain-specific classifications of thingees such as securities being a type of financial instrument, from the domain-indepedent underlying logic, such as whether the thingee is *being thought of* as something that happens or is *being thought of" as something that endures, or is *being thought of* as something that is a frame for describing other thingees, etc.

So this below, is absolutely right:

On Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 3:20 PM, Chris Mungall <cjmungall@xxxxxxx> wrote:

"Different aspects are
being described in each hierarchy. You may dislike this separation
philosophically, but it serves a purpose. We're quite simple minded at
the end of the day, and prohibiting someone attaching a "mass" or
"width" property to a fruit ripening process appeals to us, and the
benefits of abandoning this aren't clear."

But the problem is, the 'axioms' (I would express them as syntactic constraints and rules of inference, and leave axioms to express domain knowledge), that tell us what you can say about processes such as drainging and instances of processes such as drainging Lake Superior, vs, what you can say about physical things  such as Lake Superior, vs. what you can say about a stuff such as water, and about sets and about parts and wholes, all have nothing in particular to do with the *pariticular* science of biology.  These general 'axioms' are logical, in the broader sense, and can be used in any domain, while scientific principles of biology are the special knowledge of the biologist. 

The fact that these have gotten conflated in ontology is evidence of the deep hole in which the work of engineering ontologists is done, away from the lights not only of actual software design and library science and data modelling, but that might also be shed by modern philosophy, with many analogs in science, where we have learned to stop talking about what something 'really' is, vs. how we are looking at it, and have learned to see scientific theories themselves not as things that are 'true' or 'false', but more or less effective and insightful, that can only approach that asymptote of what is really out there.


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