Individuals, Universals, Collections: On the Foundational Relations of Ontology

In Achille Varzi & Laure Vieu (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the Third International Conference, 37–48. IOS Press. 37–48. (2004)
Abstract
This paper provides an axiomatic formalization of a theory of foundational relations between three categories of entities: individuals, universals, and collections. We deal with a variety of relations between entities in these categories, including the is-a relation among universals and the part-of relation among individuals as well as cross-category relations such as instance-of, member-of, and partition-of. We show that an adequate understanding of the formal properties of such relations – in particular their behavior with respect to time – is critical for formal ontology. We provide examples to support this thesis from the domain of biomedicine.
Keywords dependence relations  basic categories  biomedical ontology
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