David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Luciano Floridi (ed.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information. Blackwell. 155-166 (2003)
Ontology as a branch of philosophy is the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality. ‘Ontology’ is often used by philosophers as a synonym of ‘metaphysics’ (a label meaning literally: ‘what comes after the Physics’), a term used by early students of Aristotle to refer to what Aristotle himself called ‘first philosophy’. Sometimes ‘ontology’ is used in a broader sense, to refer to the study of what might exist; ‘metaphysics’ is then used for the study of which of the various alternative possible ontologies is in fact true of reality. (Ingarden 1964) The term ‘ontology’ (or ontologia) was coined in 1613, independently, by two philosophers, Rudolf Göckel (Goclenius), in his Lexicon philosophicum and Jacob Lorhard (Lorhardus), in his Theatrum philosophicum. Its first occurrence in English as recorded by the OED appears in Bailey’s dictionary of 1721, which defines ontology as ‘an Account of being in the Abstract’.
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