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Re: [ontac-forum] Theories, Models, Reasoning, Language, and Truth

To: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>, ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 14:01:50 EST
Message-id: <43a7039e.e9b7.0@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Barry,    (01)

We agree on many of the important issues, but there are still some
that need to be clarified.    (02)

JS>> Fundamental principle:  For communication, what you call something
>> is much more important than what it is.    (03)

BS> For successful communication it is probably quite important that you 
> are right about the latter, also.    (04)

Yes, but in communication, it is rare that all fundamental issues are
settled *before* the communication begins.  Instead, continual negotations,
corrections, clarifications, and adjustments take place at every stage of
the communication.  It is unrealistic to assume that a one-size-fits-all
ontology can be legislated as a prerequisite -- especially when it is
necessary to interoperate with legacy systems that were implemented
and deployed long before the ontology was developed.    (05)

JS>> For detailed reasoning, it is *essential* to avoid making more
>> commitments than are necessary for the problem at hand.    (06)

BS> I agree with this.    (07)

Good.  But when you add multiple interoperating systems to the community,
the prerequisites must be limited to the common intersection that is
compatible with every system that must be able to communicate with
any of the others.  (More assumptions can be added, after suitable
negotiations and adjustments among the parties to the communication.)    (08)

BS> .... The fact that we do not know certain things about reality
> (e.g. about the ultimate structure of matter) does not at all
> imply that we can know nothing about reality...    (09)

Yes, I've been saying that repeatedly -- for example, in Section 7
of the paper whose title is the subject of these messages.    (010)

BS> ... and so we have to turn instead to a world of signs (where we 
> somehow (how?) do have the ability to gain knowledge).    (011)

Yes, and there are many ways -- learning, being told, and negotiating,
for example.  For a community of interoperating systems, I recommend
an approach that uses the metadata registry:  Develop a family of
theories, and post them in the registry.  Then communicating systems
can specify a predefined theory, if one is suitable, or propose that
one or more theories be combined and revised, if necessary.  That is
the point of the lattice of theories and the theory revision operators.    (012)

JS> We are certainly not going to solve the ultimate issues of ontology
> in the ONTAC WG, and I believe that we should not impose any partial
> solution on everyone.  The upper level, if any, should make very
> minimal commitments.  How minimal is a matter to be determined.    (013)

BS> I agree.    (014)

Great!  I'll stop on this note of harmony.    (015)

John    (016)

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