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

To: "'Ontology Summit 2007 Forum'" <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Chris Partridge" <mail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 12:28:02 +0100
Message-id: <005101c78408$2074f890$0200a8c0@POID7204>
Has anyone introduced the distinction between ontology as a discipline and
an ontology? I think it may be useful.    (01)

As far as I am aware Nicola (Guarino) introduced this in a paper in the
mid-90s. I have used a similar distinction in
http://www.boroprogram.org/boro_program/pdfs_wps/BO1.pdf which was written
in the late 90's.     (02)

I talk about Ontology(-with-a-capital-O) as the (philosophical) discipline -
a branch of metaphysics and its subject matter is existence and its nature
(the standard dictionary definition). Doing Ontology usually involves, at
some stage, developing at least a part of an ontology(-with-a-small-o).     (03)

This distinction is reflected in the more technical definitions - such as
Lowe's an ontology is "the set of things whose existence is acknowledged by
a particular theory or system of thought." (E. J. Lowe, The Oxford Companion
to Philosophy) - which describes ontology(-with-a-small-o).    (04)

[As an aside, I think it is often useful when applying the dictionary test
to technical words, to check the technical dictionaries as well.]    (05)

Quine's famous claim that the question facing of Ontology can be stated in
three words 'What is there?' - and the answer in one 'everything'. Caveating
that though "everyone will accept this answer as true", "there remains room
for disagreement over cases." This seems to me to be limit case, where
Ontology(-with-a-capital-O) begins to merge into ontology(-with-a-small-o).    (06)

I think this sheds light on Mike Uschold's comment in his slides:    (07)

Ph:     Subject area extremely general  vs. 
IT:     Focused on a specific domain (usually);     (08)

I suspect both philosophy and IT do both Ontology(-with-a-capital-O) and
ontology(-with-a-small-o (maybe with a different emphasis - rather than this
being a distinguishing feature.    (09)

I think it may be useful to make this distinction in the framework.    (010)

Chris    (011)

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