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Re: [ontac-forum] Semantic Interoperability: Sowa'sCollection of Modules

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Barry Smith <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 16:45:03 +0100
Message-id: <>

>Re John's response to:
>BS> BFO has two modules, one 3-D (defined for representing
> > continuants), one 4-D (designed for representing processes),
> > together with relations between them. Users are welcome
> > to use either both modules together, or just one of them,
> > according to preference.
>That's an excellent principle.  Any axiom that is deleted
>from UF will not go away, but it will be available in
>modules or microtheories that could be used as needed
>by various systems.  In effect, the topmost levels of most
>ontologies are the most controversial.  Therefore, UF
>should have a highly impoverished top level.    (01)

It reveals a problem however. If only those bits 
of the top level are to survive which are agreed 
to by everybody, then -- since there are 
3-dimensionalists and 4-dimensionalists who share 
no (or very few) top-level beliefs in common 
about the nature of physical reality -- nothing 
will survice. I would suggest, in fact, that the 
BFO solution should be generalized. BFO itself 
has two modules, one for occurrents, one for 
continuants -- entities which exist in two 
distinct ways in time. It has no modules for 
dealing with numbers or sets; we are happy to use 
other peoples' modules. These are all top-level 
modules. People should be able to select from these, too.    (02)

>BS> ... though we will need a bit more
> > than the syllogism if we are to deal adequately with the
> > distinction between instances (Toronto) and types (city).
> > The fact that this distinction has not been dealt with
> > adequately flows in part from the fact that people were
> > assuming that something like syllogistic would be adequate
> > for their needs.
>I certainly agree with the first point, but I'd like to
>throw in a good word for Aristotle and the Scholastics,
>who were very clear about the distinction between types
>and instances.    (03)

I am a big fan of Aristotle and the Scholastics; 
but syllogistic is about reasoning with types: 
All M are P; some M are P, etc. It does not -- in 
the various forms it was used e.g. by Eugen 
Wüster, the inspiration for ISO's horribly 
confused yet astonishingly influential 
'terminology' standard -- have a clear place for instances.    (04)

>In any case, I used the term "syllogism" to indicate the
>very limited level of logical expressivity required for
>the core UF.  I would assume that the tools used to support
>UF would enforce the distinction between types and instances.    (05)

BS      (06)

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