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Re: [ontac-forum] Neutrality Principle

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 09:44:06 +0100
Message-id: <>
At 05:21 PM 11/27/2005, you wrote:
> > Building Rome one brick at a time:
> >
> > Will John accept for UF the following definition of
> > part_of between types A and B:
> >
> > A part_of B =def every instance of A is PART of some
> > instance of B
> >
> > where PART is the usual, mereological, instance-level
> > relation of [proper or improper] parthood, as for
> > instance between John's heart and John's body?    (01)

>That's an excellent question, and controversial
>as well:
>This leads us to the old question:  Is a keyhole a
>part of a house?  Most people (and ontologies) would
>agree that a door is part of a house, that a lock is
>part of a door, and that a keyhole is part of a lock.    (02)

>But they might hesitate at keyhole for more than one
>reason:  unlimited transitivity of the informal English
>"part of" is not universally accepted, and holes raise
>ontological issues that are peculiar to "things" that
>"consist of" of an absence of stuff.
But there is an even simpler way of eliminating this example (in 
light of the proposed definition):    (03)

not all keyholes are keyholes in houses; some are keyholes in police 
stations, etc.    (04)

Thus our question should more properly relate to:    (05)

house-keyhole part_of house    (06)

I have no problem at all in asserting that every instance of the 
former is a mereological part of some instance of the latter. I also 
have no problem accepting holes as full-fledged entities, and  I have 
yet to see a convincing example which would make me doubt the 
transitivity of parthood on either the type or instance levels.    (07)

However, even if, in the interests of maximizing neutrality, we 
accept a more general mereological parthood relation which is 
non-transitive, then I think the above definition for part_of on the 
level of types, would still work, wouldn't it? Note that it is a 
definition, not an axiom.    (08)

BS     (09)

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