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RE: [ontac-forum] ISO 15926 and BFO

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Barry Smith <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 17:12:20 +0100
Message-id: <>

>More points re ISO 15926 and BFO
>>MW: It is of course available in ISO 15926-2, which you can get from
>>your local national standards body, or from ISO itself. All the definitions
>>are also present in the web version of the model at:
>Does this mean that we have to pay 246 Swiss 
>Francs to see what ISO 15926-2 is capable of 
>(and that this is the reason why Matthew wanted 
>us to fly to London -- to save money?
>If so, could he not just cut and paste the 
>relevant section, indicating how the standard 
>supports simple reasoning about instances and types?
>Should we be considering an ontology as a common 
>standard which has a 246 Swiss Franc membership fee?
>Re my own earlier remarks regarding:
>>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.
>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 survive. 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.    (01)

I failed to remark that the 3-D and 4-D 
ontologies in the simple formulation adopted by 
BFO are compatible with each other. This is 
because they merely assert that there 3-D and 4-D 
entities, respectively. E.g. there are hands, and 
there are handshakes. No normal person would disagree with this.    (02)

The two ontologies become incompatible only when 
one adopts ( la Matthew) a reductionist clause 
to the effect that there ONLY 4-D entities (or 
ONLY 3-D entities) according to choice.    (03)

Thus, BFO is compatible with all 3-D and 4-D 
ontologies, but only if the latter are shorn of 
the associated reductionist clauses (which are 
what cause all the foundational debates which 
John, rightly, is exasperated by).    (04)

The BFO ideology holds that a top-level ontology 
(like a domain ontology) should reflect nothing 
like a closed world assumption. That is, it 
should always leave room for the addition of new 
types as these become recognized as necessary, 
e.g. because of the advance of science.
BS    (05)

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