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Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Framework Draft Statement for theOntology

To: <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 17:38:44 +0100
Message-id: <808637A57BC3454FA660801A3995FA8F04EC03AA@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Tom,    (01)

You said in your reply to John Sowa    (02)

> The Ontologies of philosophy are theories, ideas, ways of 
> thinking about the world, and arguments about the nature of 
> Reality.  The ontologies that are the subject of W3C standards, 
> manipulated by software, and used to represent huge stores of data 
> in databases are material, concrete, objective documents
> in the same category as programs, database schemata, and 
> other digitally stored representations.    (03)

I disagree. The ontologies we develop as computer scientists are
precisely theories of how (bits of) the world works. If they are
not, they are unlikely to be useful. Now I will grant that when
philosophers look at these theories they do so with a different
set of glasses on, but if you look at any of the upper ontologies
that have been discussed on this list (and included in the
document presented) you will find that they have substantially
written down in a computer processable way theories taken from
the philosophical literature.    (04)

The draft document itself went to some lengths to say that a
"conceptualisation" could be written down even in natural
language. How would that then be different from writing down
a theory of existence in a philosophical paper and yet you
not be able to call it an ontology in the sense we wish to 
mean here?    (05)

Regards    (06)

Matthew West
Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
Shell International Petroleum Company Limited
Registered in England and Wales
Registered number: 621148
Registered office: Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom    (07)

Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
Email: matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx
http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/    (08)

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