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Ontology

Edited by T. Parent (Virginia Tech)
About this topic
Summary Following Quine, ontology is here understood as the study of what there is. (Re: neo-Aristotelian ontology, the study of what grounds what, see the "Fundamentality" category.) Our focus is on the existence of the most generic things that populate many philosophers' ontologies, e.g., objects, properties, natural kinds, states-of-affairs, events, etc. We often talk of these things without thinking twice, but the existence of such entities can seem odd on reflection. For instance, it is natural to say that red roses and red firetrucks have something in common, the property of being red. But does this mean there is a single entity that is a constituent of *every* such rose and firetruck? A second example concerns composite objects: Suppose Abe Lincoln replaces the handle of his axe in 1825, and later in 1860 replaces the head. Does this mean he has owned more than one axe in his lifetime? In general, given a puzzling entity X, Realists about X will strive to minimize such oddities--whereas Anti-Realists often try to preserve ordinary talk of X, despite excluding X from their ontology. Questions about ontology can also lead to questions about these questions. Thus, ontology often bleeds into metaontology, the study of the study of what there is. In recent years, the ontology literature has grown dramatically, especially on metaontology and on composition.
Key works Besides Quine 1948, the articles in Chalmers et al 2009 are central to current metaontology. Lewis 1991 is a classic on mereology; see also ch. 4 of Lewis 1986. Other key works on composition are Van Inwagen 1990, Sider 2001, and the selections in Rea 1997. Armstrong is the most important author on properties and universals; see Armstrong 1978 (two vols.) and Armstrong 1989. (These also are informative about Armstrong's influential view of states-of-affairs.) Lewis' critical studies of Armstrong are also must reads: Lewis 1983 and Lewis 1986. Some other important works in ontology are Meinong 1960, Benacerraf 1965, Quine 1968, Lewis & Lewis 1970, and Field 1980. An especially important, currently active ontologist is Thomasson; see especially Thomasson 1999 and Thomasson 2007.
Introductions Hofweber 2008, Rosen 2008, and Korman 2011 are especially recommended. Additional entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia are also relevant, e.g., "object," "properties," "intrinsic vs. extrinsic properties," "essential vs. accidental properties," "tropes," "natural kinds," etc. The pertinent chapters in Loux & Zimmerman 2003, Gale 2002, and Kim et al 2009 are also recommended.
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Subcategories:
Events (66)
Existence (88)
Metaontology* (639 | 78)
Propositions* (400 | 179)
Objects* (2,618)
Properties* (952 | 21)
Substance (335)
Truthmakers (392)
See also:History/traditions: Ontology
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  1. Ömer Mahir Alper (2010). Varlık Ve Insan: Kemalpaşazâde Bağlamında Bir Tasavvurun Yeniden Inşası. Klasik.
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  2. Angelo Alves (2005). Prolegómenos a Uma Ontologia Pluridimensional: Dialéctica, Ascensional, Plenificante. Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda.
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  3. Claudio Badano (2009). Il Possibile Fra l'Essere E Il Nulla: Il Ritorno Della Questione Ontologica Fondamentale Nella Filosofia Del Novecento. Unicopli.
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  4. Kathi Beier & Peter Heuer (eds.) (2010). Ontologie: Zur Aktualität Einer Umstrittenen Disziplin. Leipziger Universitätsverlag.
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  5. Thomas Bittner, Maureen Donnelly & Barry Smith (2004). Endurants and Perdurants in Directly Depicting Ontologies. AI Communications 13 (4):247–258.
    We propose an ontological theory that is powerful enough to describe both complex spatio-temporal processes and the enduring entities that participate therein. For this purpose we introduce the notion a directly depicting ontology. Directly depicting ontologies are based on relatively simple languages and fall into two major categories: ontologies of type SPAN and ontologies of type SNAP. These represent two complementary perspectives on reality and employ distinct though compatible systems of categories. A SNAP (snapshot) ontology comprehends enduring entities such as (...)
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  6. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2003). A Theory of Granular Partitions. In Foundations of Geographic Information Science. Taylor & Francis.
    We have a variety of different ways of dividing up, classifying, mapping, sorting and listing the objects in reality. The theory of granular partitions presented here seeks to provide a general and unified basis for understanding such phenomena in formal terms that is more realistic than existing alternatives. Our theory has two orthogonal parts: the first is a theory of classification; it provides an account of partitions as cells and subcells; the second is a theory of reference or intentionality; it (...)
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  7. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2003). Granular Partitions and Vagueness. In Chris Welty & Barry Smith (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS). ACM Press.
    There are some who defend a view of vagueness according to which there are intrinsically vague objects or attributes in reality. Here, in contrast, we defend a view of vagueness as a semantic property of names and predicates. All entities are crisp, on this view, but there are, for each vague name, multiple portions of reality that are equally good candidates for being its referent, and, for each vague predicate, multiple classes of objects that are equally good candidates for being (...)
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  8. OIivier Bodenreider, Barry Smith & Anita Burgun (2004). The Ontology-Epistemology Divide: A Case Study in Medical Terminology. In Achille Varzi & Laure Vieu (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the Third International Conference (FOIS 2004),. IOS Press.
    Medical terminology collects and organizes the many different kinds of terms employed in the biomedical domain both by practitioners and also in the course of biomedical research. In addition to serving as labels for biomedical classes, these names reflect the organizational principles of biomedical vocabularies and ontologies. Some names represent invariant features (classes, universals) of biomedical reality (i.e., they are a matter for ontology). Other names, however, convey also how this reality is perceived, measured, and understood by health professionals (i.e., (...)
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  9. Olivier Bodenreider, Barry Smith, Anand Kumar & Anita Burgun (2007). Investigating Subsumption in SNOMED CT: An Exploration Into Large Description Logic-Based Biomedical Terminologies”,. Artificial Intelligence in Medicine 39:183-195.
    Formalisms based on one or other flavor of Description Logic (DL) are sometimes put forward as helping to ensure that terminologies and controlled vocabularies comply with sound ontological principles. The objective of this paper is to study the degree to which one DL-based biomedical terminology (SNOMED CT) does indeed comply with such principles. We defined seven ontological principles (for example: each class must have at least one parent, each class must differ from its parent) and examined the properties of SNOMED (...)
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  10. M. Boeker, N. Grewe, J. Röhl, D. Schober, S. Schulz, D. Seddig-Raufie & L. Jansen (2013). Measuring the Effect of a Guideline-Based Training on Ontology Design with a Competency Questions Based Evaluation Approach. In M. Horbach (ed.), Informatik 2013. Informatik angepasst an Mensch, Organisation und Umwelt. 1783-1795.
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  11. M. Boeker, L. Jansen, J. Röhl, N. Grewe, D. Seddig-Raufie & S. Schulz (2013). Effects of Guideline-Based Training on the Quality of Formal Ontologies: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 1.
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  12. M. Boeker, S. Schulz, D. Seddig-Raufie, D. Schober, J. Röhl, N. Grewe & L. Jansen (forthcoming). Definition Und Evaluation Einer Guideline Zur Entwicklung von Qualitativ Guten Ontologien. In GMDS 2013: 58. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e.V. (GMDS). Lübeck.
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  13. M. Boeker, S. Schulz, D. Seddig-Raufie, D. Schober, J. Röhl, N. Grewe & L. Jansen (2013). Definition Und Evaluation Einer Guideline Zur Entwicklung von Qualitativ Guten Ontologien. GMDS 2013: 58. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie Und Epidemiologie E.V. (GMDS). Lübeck 1.
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  14. Stefano Borgo, Riichiro Mizoguchi & Barry Smith (2011). On the Ontology of Functions. Applied Ontology 6 (2):99-104.
    This special issue of Applied Ontology is devoted to the foundation, the comparison and the application of functional theories in all areas, with particular attention to the biological and engineering domains. It includes theoretical and technical contributions related to the description, characterization, and application of functions.
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  15. Grzegorz Bugajak (2009). Philosophy of Nature, Realism, and the Postulated Ontology of Scientific Theories. In Adam Świeżyński (ed.), Philosophy of Nature Today, Wydawnictwo UKSW, Warszawa. 59–80.
    The first part of the paper is a metatheoretical consideration of such philosophy of nature which allows for using scientific results in philosophical analyses. An epistemological 'judgment' of those results becomes a preliminary task of this discipline: this involves taking a position in the controversy between realistic and antirealistic accounts of science. It is shown that a philosopher of nature has to be a realist, if his task to build true ontology of reality is to be achieved. At the same (...)
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  16. Mario Augusto Bunge (1977). Ontology. Reidel.
    1. The furniture of the world.--2. A world of systems.
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  17. D. K. Burlaka (2007). Myshlenie I Otkrovenie: Sistematicheskoe Vvedenie V Khristianskui͡u Metafiziku. Russkiĭ Khristianskiĭ Gumanitarnyĭ Institut.
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  18. Pier Luigi Buttigieg, Norman Morrison, Barry Smith, Christopher J. Mungall & Suzanna E. Lewis (2013). The Environment Ontology. Journal of Biomedical Semantics 4 (43).
    As biological and biomedical research increasingly reference the environmental context of the biological entities under study, the need for formalisation and standardisation of environment descriptors is growing. The Environment Ontology (ENVO; www.environmentontology.org) is a community-led, open project which seeks to provide an ontology for specifying a wide range of environments relevant to multiple life science disciplines and, through an open participation model, to accommodate the terminological requirements of all those needing to annotate data using ontology classes. This paper summarises ENVO’s (...)
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  19. André Cantin (2009). Être Est Aimer. Cerf.
    1. Partir en philosophie -- 2. La condition humaine.
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  20. Guido Canziani & Erasmo Silvio Storace (eds.) (2005). La Storia Dell'ontologia. Alboversorio.
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  21. Werner Ceusters, Peter Elkin & Barry Smith (2006). Referent Tracking: The Problem of Negative Findings. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 124:741-46.
    The paradigm of referent tracking is based on a realist presupposition which rejects so-called negative entities (congenital absent nipple, and the like) as spurious. How, then, can a referent tracking-based Electronic Health Record deal with what are standardly called ‘negative findings’? To answer this question we carried out an analysis of some 748 sentences drawn from patient charts and containing some form of negation. Our analysis shows that to deal with these sentences we need to introduce a new ontological relationship (...)
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  22. Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith (2010). A Unified Framework for Biomedical Terminologies and Ontologies. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 160:1050-1054.
    The goal of the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry initiative is to create and maintain an evolving collection of non-overlapping interoperable ontologies that will offer unambiguous representations of the types of entities in biological and biomedical reality. These ontologies are designed to serve non-redundant annotation of data and scientific text. To achieve these ends, the Foundry imposes strict requirements upon the ontologies eligible for inclusion. While these requirements are not met by most existing biomedical terminologies, the latter may nonetheless support (...)
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  23. Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith (2010). Malaria Diagnosis and the Plasmodium Life Cycle: The BFO Perspective. In Interdisciplinary Ontology. Proceedings of the Third Interdisciplinary Ontology Meeting. Keio University Press.
    Definitive diagnosis of malaria requires the demonstration through laboratory tests of the presence within the patient of malaria parasites or their components. Since malaria parasites can be present even in the absence of malaria manifestations, and since symptoms of malaria can be manifested even in the absence of malaria parasites, malaria diagnosis raises important issues for the adequate understanding of disease, etiology and diagnosis. One approach to the resolution of these issues adopts a realist view, according to which the needed (...)
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  24. Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith (2006). A Realism-Based Approach to the Evolution of Biomedical Ontologies. In Proceedings of the Annual AMIA Symposium. AMIA.
    We present a novel methodology for calculating the improvements obtained in successive versions of biomedical ontologies. The theory takes into account changes both in reality itself and in our understanding of this reality. The successful application of the theory rests on the willingness of ontology authors to document changes they make by following a number of simple rules. The theory provides a pathway by which ontology authoring can become a science rather than an art, following principles analogous to those that (...)
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  25. Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith (2006). Strategies for Referent Tracking in Electronic Health Records. Journal of Biomedical Informatics 39 (3):362-378.
    The goal of referent tracking is to create an ever-growing pool of data relating to the entities existing in concrete spatiotemporal reality. In the context of Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) the relevant concrete entities are not only particular patients but also their parts, diseases, therapies, lesions, and so forth, insofar as these are salient to diagnosis and treatment. Within a referent tracking system, all such entities are referred to directly and explicitly, something which cannot be achieved when familiar concept-based systems (...)
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  26. Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith (2005). Tracking Referents in Electronic Health Records. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 116:71–76.
    Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are organized around two kinds of statements: those reporting observations made, and those reporting acts performed. In neither case does the record involve any direct reference to what such statements are actually about. They record not: what is happening on the side of the patient, but rather: what is said about what is happening. While the need for a unique patient identifier is generally recognized, we argue that we should now move to an EHR regime in (...)
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  27. Werner Ceusters, Barry Smith & James Matthew Fielding (2004). LinkSuite™: Software Tools for Formally Robust Ontology-Based Data and Information Integration. In Proceedings of DILS 2004 (Data Integration in the Life Sciences), (Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics, 2994). Springer.
    The integration of information resources in the life sciences is one of the most challenging problems facing bioinformatics today. We describe how Language and Computing nv, originally a developer of ontology-based natural language understanding systems for the healthcare domain, is developing a framework for the integration of structured data with unstructured information contained in natural language texts. L&C’s LinkSuite™ combines the flexibility of a modular software architecture with an ontology based on rigorous philosophical and logical principles that is designed to (...)
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  28. Mingcai Chen (2010). Sheng Tai Cun Zai Lun =. Zhongguo She Hui Ke Xue Chu Ban She.
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  29. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2012). Roman Ingarden. In Antonio Cimino & Vincenzo Costa (eds.), Storia della fenomenologia. Carocci Editore.
    Roman Ingarden (1893-1970) apparteneva a quegli allievi di Husserl che si designano come “fenomenologia di Gottinga”. Si tratta della prima generazione di fenomenologi, nella quale rientravano, fra gli altri, anche Adolf Reinach, Hedwig Conrad-Martius ed Edith Stein. I ricercatori di questo gruppo erano influenzati soprattutto dalle Ricerche logiche di Husserl e reagirono un po’ stupiti alla sua successiva svolta idealistica. Per quanto riguarda lo stesso Ingarden, egli incontrò Husserl solo dopo la pubblicazione delle Idee, tuttavia filosoficamente appartiene senza dubbio al (...)
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  30. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2009). Genshogaku-teki na Imi no Riron: Husserl kara Ingarden made. Gendai Shiso (The Review of Contemporary Thought) 37 (16):66-88.
    This is a japanese translation of Arkadiusz Chrudzimski, "Von Brentano zu Ingarden. Die phänomenologische Bedeutungslehre", Husserl Studies 18 (2002), 3, pp. 185-208.
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  31. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2002). Brentano und Meinong. Zur Ontologie der Denkobjekte. In Winfried Löffler (ed.), Substanz und Identität. Beiträge zur Ontologie. Mentis.
    1. Die Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874) Brentanos gilt als das Werk der Theorie der Intentionalität. Brentano macht dort die „intentionale Inexistenz” des Denkobjekts zum Definitionsmerkmal des Psychischen und zugleich zum zentralen Begriff eines einflußreichen Forschungsprogramms. Die Idee der intentionalen Beziehung, die in der Psychologie diese zentrale Stellung genießt, hat jedoch ganz bestimmte Aristotelisch-scholastische Wurzeln und wurde bereits in Brentanos Dissertation (1862) sowie in seiner Habilita¬tions¬schrift (1867) als ein unproblematisches Werzeug der Analyse verwendet. 2. Die Rede von der „objektiven Existenz (...)
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  32. Vincenzo Cicero (2012). Essere E Analogia. Il Prato.
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  33. James Clark (1973). The Problem of Fundamental Ontology. Toronto,Limits Book Co..
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  34. Finn Collin (1997). Social Reality. Routledge.
    Social reality is a key problem in the philosophy of social science. Outlining the major historical and contemporary issues raised by the social reality and social facts, this book has something to offer both philosophers and social scientists. To the former is shows how the well-worn topic of realism versus anti-realism assumes new and interestingly varied forms when social reality is substituted for physical reality. For the social scientist, the book offers conceptual clarification of key issues in recent social science (...)
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  35. Laurel Cooper, Ramona Walls, Justin Elser, Maria A. Gandolfo, Dennis W. Stevenson & Barry Smith (2013). The Plant Ontology as a Tool for Comparative Plant Anatomy and Genomic Analyses. Plant and Cell Physiology 54:1-23..
    The Plant Ontology (PO; http://www.plantontology.org/) is a publicly-available, collaborative effort to develop and maintain a controlled, structured vocabulary (“ontology”) of terms to describe plant anatomy, morphology and the stages of plant development. The goals of the PO are to link (annotate) gene expression and phenotype data to plant structures and stages of plant development, using the data model adopted by the Gene Ontology. From its original design covering only rice, maize and Arabidopsis, the scope of the PO has been expanded (...)
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  36. Raul Corazzon, Theory and History of Ontology.
    Stagirite's important disciples should also be mentioned. Other philosophers belonging to the Peripatetic school were: Aristoxenus, Dikaiarchos, Phanias, Straton, Duris, Chamaeleon, Lycon, Hieronymus, Ariston, Critolaus, Phormio, Sotion, Hermippus, Satyrus and others. Straton even succeeded Theophrastus as director of the Lyceum but his name and those of the other Peripatetics of Aristotle's old school should not be considered in a history of logic as they were mainly concerned with history and the natural sciences.
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  37. Phil Corkum (2010). Essays on Being (Review). [REVIEW] Journal of Hellenic Studies 130:285-86.
    This volume collects eight of Kahn’s articles from 1966 to 2004, with a 15-page introduction and a previously unpublished 12-page postscript to one article, concerning a variety of issues on Parmenides unrelated to the titular topic. Kahn’s work on the interpretation of being in Greek philosophy and literature is seminal, and it is most welcome to have these articles in one volume. It is partly because Kahn’s contribution is important, partly because the issue is thorny and partly because his thought (...)
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  38. Phil Corkum (2008). Aristotle on Ontological Dependence. Phronesis 53 (1):65 - 92.
    Aristotle holds that individual substances are ontologically independent from nonsubstances and universal substances but that non-substances and universal substances are ontologically dependent on substances. There is then an asymmetry between individual substances and other kinds of beings with respect to ontological dependence. Under what could plausibly be called the standard interpretation, the ontological independence ascribed to individual substances and denied of non-substances and universal substances is a capacity for independent existence. There is, however, a tension between this interpretation and the (...)
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  39. Fabrice Correia, Jessica Leech & Mollie Molyneaux (2011). Genevan Ruminations on The Metaphysics of Knowledge. Dialectica 65 (1):117-123.
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  40. Emilio Carlo Corriero (2012). Libertà E Conflitto: Da Heidegger a Schelling, Per Un'ontologia Dinamica. Rosenberg & Sellier.
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  41. István Gábor Cselényi (2011). A Lét Perújrafelvétele. Kairosz.
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  42. Milan Cvetojević (2009). Mutabor. Ukronija.
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  43. Charles B. Daniels (1986/1987). Toward an Ontology of Number, Mind, and Sign. Humanities Press.
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  44. Kanti Lal Das & Anirban Mukherjee (eds.) (2008). Language and Ontology. Northern Book Centre.
    The book highlights the concept of ontology, relationship between language and ontology, the distinction between ontology and reality, the role of linguistic ...
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  45. Joseph Davydov (2005). Bytie.
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  46. Roberta de Monticelli (2003). On Ontology. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):171-186.
    This paper compares two basic approaches to “ontology”. One originated within the analytic tradition, and it encompasses two diverging streams, philosophy of language and (contemporary) philosophy of mind which lead to “reduced ontology” and “neo-Aristotelian ontology”, respectively. The other approach is “phenomenological ontology” (more precisely, the Husserlian, not the Heideggerian version).Ontology as a theory of reference (“reduced” ontology, or ontology dependent on semantics) is presented and justified on the basis of some classical thesis of traditional philosophy of language (from Frege (...)
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  47. Wolfgang Degen, Barbara Heller, Heinrich Herre & Barry Smith (2001). GOL: A General Ontological Language. In C. Welty B. Smith (ed.), Formal Ontology and Information Systems. Acm Press.
    Every domain-specific ontology must use as a framework some upper-level ontology which describes the most general, domain-independent categories of reality. In the present paper we sketch a new type of upper-level ontology, which is intended to be the basis of a knowledge modelling language GOL (for: 'General Ontological Language'). It turns out that the upper- level ontology underlying standard modelling languages such as KIF, F-Logic and CycL is restricted to the ontology of sets. Set theory has considerable mathematical power and (...)
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  48. Roberto Diodato (2012). Logos Estetico. Morcelliana.
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  49. Mauro Dorato (2008). Putnam on Time and Special Relativity: A Long Journey From Ontology to Ethics. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 4 (2):51-70.
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  50. Jeff Engelhardt (2014). Married Causes. Acta Analytica 29 (2):161-180.
    Many philosophers accept some version of a principle that says for all x, if x exists, then x plays a unique causal role. After briefly clarifying one version of the principle in Section 1, Section 2 gives reasons to doubt it by showing that there are non-identical “causal indiscernibles”—I call them “married causes.” Section 3 then sketches a few philosophical puzzles for which married causes may be helpful.
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