John Searle's forthcoming book 'Rationality in Action' presents a sophisticated and innovative account of the rationality of action. In the book Searle argues against what he calls the classical model of rationality. In the debate that follows Barry Smith challenges some implications of Searle's account. In particular, Smith suggests that Searle's distinction between observer-relative and observer-independent facts of the world is ill suited to accommodate moral concepts. Leo Zaibert takes on Searle's notion of the gap. The gap exists between the (...) reasons that we have for acting and our actions. According to Searle, whenever there is no gap, our actions exhibit irrationality. Zaibert points out a certain obscurity in Searle's treatment of the gap, particularly in connection with Searle's notion of 'recognitional rationality'. Finally, Josef Moural examines the interactions between Searle's theory of institutions and his theory of rationality, with emphasis on the connections between intentionality and Searle's notion of the 'background'. (shrink)
The discipline of ontology has enjoyed a checkered history since 1606, with a significant expansion in recent years. We focus here on those developments in the recent history of philosophy which are most relevant to the understanding of the increased acceptance of ontology, and especially of realist ontology, as a valuable method also outside the discipline of philosophy.
Self-knowledge is the focus of considerable attention from philosophers: Knowing Our Own Minds gives a much-needed overview of current work on the subject, bringing together new essays by leading figures. Knowledge of one's own sensations, desires, intentions, thoughts, beliefs, and other attitudes is characteristically different from other kinds of knowledge: it has greater immediacy, authority, and salience. The contributors examine philosophical questions raised by the distinctive character of self-knowledge, relating it to knowledge of other minds, to rationality and agency, externalist (...) theories of psychological content, and knowledge of language. Together these original, stimulating, and closely interlinked essays demonstrate the special relevance of self-knowledge to a broad range of issues in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
A realist theory of truth for a class of sentence holds that there are entities in virtue of which these sentences are true or false. We call such entities ‘truthmakers’ and contend that those for a wide range of sentences about the real world are moments (dependent particulars). Since moments are unfamiliar we provide a definition and a brief philosophical history, anchoring them in our ontology by showing that they are objects of perception. The core of our theory is the (...) account of truthmaking for atomic sentences, in which we expose a pervasive ‘dogma of logical form’, which says that atomic sentences cannot have more than one truthmaker. The authors uphold the mutual independence of logical and ontological complexity. The theory is compared with that of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, and the authors outline formal principles of truthmaking taking account of both kinds of complexity and suggesting how to overcome Wittgenstein’s problem of negation. (shrink)
The development of manufacturing technologies for new materials involves the generation of a large and continually evolving volume of information. The analysis, integration and management of such large volumes of data, typically stored in multiple independently developed databases, creates significant challenges for practitioners. There is a critical need especially for open-sharing of data pertaining to engineering design which together with effective decision support tools can enable innovation. We believe that ontology applied to engineering (OE) represents a viable strategy for the (...) alignment, reconciliation and integration of diverse and disparate data. The scope of OE includes: consistent capture of knowledge pertaining to the types of entities involved; facilitation of cooperation among diverse group of experts; more effective ongoing curation, and update of manufacturing data; collaborative design and knowledge reuse. As an illustrative case study we propose an ontology focused on the representation of composite materials focusing in particular on the class of Functionally Graded Materials (FGM) in particular. The scope of the ontology is to provide information about the components of such materials, the manufacturing processes involved in creation, and diversity of application ranging from additive manufacturing to restorative dentistry. The ontology is developed using Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI). (shrink)
In 1929 when Aurel Kolnai published his essay “On Disgust” in Husserl's ]ahrbuch he could truly assert that disgust was a "sorely neglected" topic. Now, however, this situation is changing as philosophers, psychologists, and historians of culture are turning their attention not only to emotions in general but more specifically to the large and disturbing set of aversive emotions, including disgust. We here provide an account of Kolnai’s contribution to the study of the phenomenon of disgust, of his general theory (...) of emotions and of the phenomenological methodology he employed in his work. (shrink)
Part 1 of this exchange consists in a critique by Smith of Searle’s The Construction of Social Reality focusing on Searle’s use of the formula ‘X counts as Y in context C’. Smith argues that this formula works well for social objects such as dollar bills and presidents where the corresponding X terms (pieces of paper, human beings) are easy to identify. In cases such as debts and prices and money in a banks computers, however, the formula fails, because these (...) are cases of what he calls ‘free-standing Y terms’, since there is here no X which can count as the corresponding Y. In his response in Part 2, Searle argues that Smith’s critique rests on three misunderstandings: 1. in wrongly presupposing that Searle is trying to analyze the nature of what he calls “social objects”, rather than of social facts; 2. in thinking that the counts as formula is intended as a definition, rather than as a mere mnemonic; and 3. in neglecting the naturalism of Searle’s account. (shrink)
Numerous research groups are now utilizing Basic Formal Ontology as an upper-level framework to assist in the organization and integration of biomedical information. This paper provides elucidation of the three existing BFO subcategories of realizable entity, namely function, role, and disposition. It proposes one further sub-category of tendency, and considers the merits of recognizing two sub-categories of function for domain ontologies, namely, artifactual and biological function. The motivation is to help advance the coherent ontological treatment of functions, roles, and dispositions, (...) to help provide the potential for more detailed classification, and to shed light on BFO’s general make-up and use. (shrink)
In perceptual experience we are directed towards objects in a way which establishes a real relation between a mental act and its target. In reading works of fiction we enjoy experiences which manifest certain internal similarities to such relational acts, but which lack objects. The substitution theory of art attempts to provide a reason why we seek out such experiences and the artifacts which they generate. Briefly, we seek out works of art because we enjoy the physiology and the phenomenology (...) of, for example, the experience of love or mountain climbing, and works of art serve as props for the promotion of substitutes for the corresponding genuine feelings. Art arose, or came to be separated out from other, related phenomena, through the discovery that the experience of substitute emotions can be pleasurable. (shrink)
The term ‘formal ontology’ was first used by the philosopher Edmund Husserl in his Logical Investigations to signify the study of those formal structures and relations – above all relations of part and whole – which are exemplified in the subject-matters of the different material sciences. We follow Husserl in presenting the basic concepts of formal ontology as falling into three groups: the theory of part and whole, the theory of dependence, and the theory of boundary, continuity and contact. These (...) basic concepts are presented in relation to the problem of providing an account of the formal ontology of the mesoscopic realm of everyday experience, and specifically of providing an account of the concept of individual substance. (shrink)
The notion of function is indispensable to our understanding of distinctions such as that between being broken and being in working order (for artifacts) and between being diseased and being healthy (for organisms). A clear account of the ontology of functions and functioning is thus an important desideratum for any top-level ontology intended for application to domains such as engineering or medicine. The benefit of using top-level ontologies in applied ontology can only be realized when each of the categories identified (...) and defined by a top-level ontology is integrated with the others in a coherent fashion. Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) has from the beginning included function as one of its categories, exploiting a version of the etiological account of function that is framed at a level of generality sufficient to accommodate both biological and artifactual functions. This account has been subjected to a series of criticisms and refinements. We here articulate BFO’s account of function, provide some reasons for favoring it over competing views, and defend it against objections. (shrink)
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’. (shrink)
Definitions vary according to context of use and target audience. They must be made relevant for each context to fulfill their cognitive and linguistic goals. This involves adapting their logical structure, type of content, and form to each context of use. We examine from these perspectives the case of definitions in ontologies.
Given the assertion of a relation between two types, like: “Epidermis has part some Keratinocyte”, we define silent change as any kind of change of the instance-relata of the relation in question that does not change the truth-value of the respective type-level assertion. Such assertions are notoriously difficult to model in OWL 2. To address this problem, we distinguish different modes of type-level relatedness giving rise to this problem and describe a conservative extension to the BFO top-level ontology that allows (...) expressing these modes. (shrink)
This book is a survey of the most important developments in Austrian philosophy in its classical period from the 1870s to the Anschluss in 1938. But I hope that the volume will be seen also as a contribution to philosophy in its own right as an attempt to philosophize in the spirit of those, above all Roderick Chisholm, Rudolf Haller, Kevin Mulligan and Peter Simons, who have done so much to demonstrate the continued fertility of the ideas and methods of (...) the Austrian philosophers in our own day. For some time now, historians of philosophy have been gradually coming to terms with the idea that post-Kantian philosophy in the German-speaking world ought properly to be divided into two distinct traditions which we might refer to as the German and Austrian traditions, respectively. The main line of the first consists in a list of personages beginning with Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling and ending with Heidegger, Adorno and Bloch. The main line of the second may be picked out similarly by means of a list beginning with Bolzano, Mach and Meinong, and ending with Wittgenstein, Neurath and Popper. As should be clear, it is the Austrian tradition that has contributed most to the contemporary mainstream of philosophical thinking in the Anglo-Saxon world. For while there are of course German thinkers who have made crucial contributions to the development of exact or analytic philosophy, such thinkers were outsiders when seen from the perspective of native German philosophical culture, and in fact a number of them, as we shall see, found their philosophical home precisely in Vienna. When, in contrast, we examine the influence of the Austrian line, we encounter a whole series of familiar and unfamiliar links to the characteristic concerns of more recent philosophy of the analytic sort. As Michael Dummett points out in his Origins of Analytic Philosophy, the newly fashionable habit of referring to analytic philosophy as "Anglo-American" is in this light a "grave historical distortion". If, he says, we take into account the historical context in which analytic philosophy developed, then such philosophy "could at least as well be called "Anglo-Austrianâ€" (1988, p. 7). Much valuable scholarly work has been done on the thinking of Husserl and Wittgenstein, Mach and the Vienna Circle. The central axis of Austrian philosophy, however, which as I hope to show in what follows is constituted by the work of Brentano and his school, is still rather poorly understood. Work on Meinong or Twardowski by contemporary philosophers still standardly rests upon simplified and often confused renderings of a few favoured theses taken out of context. Little attention is paid to original sources, and little effort is devoted to establishing what the problems were by which the Austrian philosophers in general were exercised B in spite of the fact that many of these same problems have once more become important as a result of the contemporary burgeoning of interest on the part of philosophers in problems in the field of cognitive science. (shrink)
Throughout the biological and biomedical sciences there is a growing need for, prescriptive ‘minimum information’ (MI) checklists specifying the key information to include when reporting experimental results are beginning to find favor with experimentalists, analysts, publishers and funders alike. Such checklists aim to ensure that methods, data, analyses and results are described to a level sufficient to support the unambiguous interpretation, sophisticated search, reanalysis and experimental corroboration and reuse of data sets, facilitating the extraction of maximum value from data sets (...) them. However, such ‘minimum information’ MI checklists are usually developed independently by groups working within representatives of particular biologically- or technologically-delineated domains. Consequently, an overview of the full range of checklists can be difficult to establish without intensive searching, and even tracking thetheir individual evolution of single checklists may be a non-trivial exercise. Checklists are also inevitably partially redundant when measured one against another, and where they overlap is far from straightforward. Furthermore, conflicts in scope and arbitrary decisions on wording and sub-structuring make integration difficult. This presents inhibit their use in combination. Overall, these issues present significant difficulties for the users of checklists, especially those in areas such as systems biology, who routinely combine information from multiple biological domains and technology platforms. To address all of the above, we present MIBBI (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations); a web-based communal resource for such checklists, designed to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for those exploring the range of extant checklist projects, and to foster collaborative, integrative development and ultimately promote gradual integration of checklists. (shrink)
We take as our starting point a thesis to the effect that, at least for true judgments of many varieties, there are parts of reality which make such judgments are true. We argue that two distinct components are involved in this truthmaker relation. On the one hand is the relation of necessitation, which holds between an object x and a judgment p when the existence of x entails the truth of p. On the other hand is the dual notion of (...) projection, which holds between a judgment p and an object x when the truth of p entails the existence of x. A truthmaker for a judgment p is then a necessitator for p which satisfies the further constraint that it is part of p’s projection. We offer a formal theory of the truthmaker relation thus defined, exploiting ontological tools of basic mereology and the theory of dependence. We then apply the theory to a range of problems connected with generic expressions, ellipsis, vagueness, and indexical and perceptual judgments. (shrink)
When the U.S. conducts warfare, elements of a force are drawn from different Services and work together as a single team to accomplish an assigned mission on the basis of joint doctrine. To achieve such unified action, it is necessary that specific Service doctrines be both consistent with and subservient to joint doctrine. But there are two further requirements that flow from the ways in which unified action increasingly involves not only live forces but also automated systems. First, the information (...) technology that is used in joint warfare must be aligned with joint doctrine. Second, the separate information systems used by the different elements of a joint force must be interoperable, in the sense that data and information that is generated by each element must be usable (understandable, processable) by all the other elements that need them. Currently, such interoperability is impeded by multiple inconsistencies among the different data and software standards used by warfighters. We describe here the on-going project of creating a Joint Doctrine Ontology (JDO), which uses joint doctrine to provide shared computer-accessible content valid for any field of military endeavor, organization, and information system. JDO addresses the two previously mentioned requirements of unified action by providing a widely applicable benchmark for use by developers of information systems that will both guarantee alignment with joint doctrine and support interoperability. (shrink)
Ontology is one strategy for promoting interoperability of heterogeneous data through consistent tagging. An ontology is a controlled structured vocabulary consisting of general terms (such as “cell” or “image” or “tissue” or “microscope”) that form the basis for such tagging. These terms are designed to represent the types of entities in the domain of reality that the ontology has been devised to capture; the terms are provided with logical defi nitions thereby also supporting reasoning over the tagged data. Aim: This (...) paper provides a survey of the biomedical imaging ontologies that have been developed thus far. It outlines the challenges, particularly faced by ontologies in the fields of histopathological imaging and image analysis, and suggests a strategy for addressing these challenges in the example domain of quantitative histopathology imaging. The ultimate goal is to support the multiscale understanding of disease that comes from using interoperable ontologies to integrate imaging data with clinical and genomics data. (shrink)
The Health Level 7 Reference Information Model (HL7 RIM) is lauded by its authors as ‘the foundation of healthcare interoperability’. Yet even after some 10 years of development work, the RIM is still subject to a variety of logical and ontological flaws, which has placed severe obstacles in the way of those who are called upon to develop implementations. We offer evidence that these obstacles are insurmountable and that the time has come to abandon an unworkable paradigm.
Recent years have seen rapid progress in the development of ontologies as semantic models intended to capture and represent aspects of the real world. There is, however, great variation in the quality of ontologies. If ontologies are to become progressively better in the future, more rigorously developed, and more appropriately compared, then a systematic discipline of ontology evaluation must be created to ensure quality of content and methodology. Systematic methods for ontology evaluation will take into account representation of individual ontologies, (...) performance (in terms of accuracy, domain coverage and the efficiency and quality of automated reasoning using the ontologies) on tasks for which the ontology is designed and used, degree of alignment with other ontologies and their compatibility with automated reasoning. A sound and systematic approach to ontology evaluation is required to transform ontology engineering into a true scientific and engineering discipline. This chapter discusses issues and problems in ontology evaluation, describes some current strategies, and suggests some approaches that might be useful in the future. (shrink)
Ernst Mach's atomistic theory of sensation faces problems in doing justice to our ability to perceive and remember complex phenomena such as melodies and shapes. Christian von Ehrenfels attempted to solve these problems with his theory of "Gestalt qualities", which he sees as entities depending one-sidedly on the corresponding simple objects of sensation. We explore the theory of dependence relations advanced by Ehrenfels and show how it relates to the views on the objects of perception advanced by Husserl and by (...) the Gestalt psychologists. (shrink)
We begin by describing recent developments in the burgeoning discipline of applied ontology, focusing especially on the ways ontologies are providing a means for the consistent representation of scientific data. We then introduce Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), a top-level ontology that is serving as domain-neutral framework for the development of lower level ontologies in many specialist disciplines, above all in biology and medicine. BFO is a bicategorial ontology, embracing both three-dimensionalist (continuant) and four-dimensionalist (occurrent) perspectives within a single framework. We (...) examine how BFO-conformant domain ontologies can deal with the consistent representation of scientific data deriving from the measurement of processes of different types, and we outline on this basis the first steps of an approach to the classification of such processes within the BFO framework. (shrink)
Despite a large and multifaceted effort to understand the vast landscape of phenotypic data, their current form inhibits productive data analysis. The lack of a community-wide, consensus-based, human- and machine-interpretable language for describing phenotypes and their genomic and environmental contexts is perhaps the most pressing scientific bottleneck to integration across many key fields in biology, including genomics, systems biology, development, medicine, evolution, ecology, and systematics. Here we survey the current phenomics landscape, including data resources and handling, and the progress that (...) has been made to accurately capture relevant data descriptions for phenotypes. We present an example of the kind of integration across domains that computable phenotypes would enable, and we call upon the broader biology community, publishers, and relevant funding agencies to support efforts to surmount today's data barriers and facilitate analytical reproducibility. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The analytical philosophy of the last hundred years has been heavily influenced by a doctrine to the effect that the key to the correct understanding of reality is captured syntactically in the ‘Fa’ (or, in more sophisticated versions, in the ‘Rab’) of standard firstorder predicate logic. Here ‘F’ stands for what is general in reality and ‘a’ for what is individual. Hence “f(a)ntology”. Because predicate logic has exactly two syntactically different kinds of referring expressions—‘F’, ‘G’, ‘R’, etc., and ‘a’, ‘b’, (...) ‘c’, etc.—so reality must consist of exactly two correspondingly different kinds of entity: the general (properties, concepts) and the particular (things, objects). We describe the historical influence of this view, and also show how standard first-order predicate logic can be used for the logical formalization of a more adequate “six category ontology”, which recognizes, at the level of both particulars and universals, not only things or objects but also events and qualities. (shrink)
The National Center for Biomedical Ontology is now in its seventh year. The goals of this National Center for Biomedical Computing are to: create and maintain a repository of biomedical ontologies and terminologies; build tools and web services to enable the use of ontologies and terminologies in clinical and translational research; educate their trainees and the scientific community broadly about biomedical ontology and ontology-based technology and best practices; and collaborate with a variety of groups who develop and use ontologies and (...) terminologies in biomedicine. The centerpiece of the National Center for Biomedical Ontology is a web-based resource known as BioPortal. BioPortal makes available for research in computationally useful forms more than 270 of the world's biomedical ontologies and terminologies, and supports a wide range of web services that enable investigators to use the ontologies to annotate and retrieve data, to generate value sets and special-purpose lexicons, and to perform advanced analytics on a wide range of biomedical data. (shrink)
The Austrian philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels published his essay "On 'Gestalt Qualities'" in 1890. The essay initiated a current of thought which enjoyed a powerful position in the philosophy and psychology of the first half of this century and has more recently enjoyed a minor resurgence of interest in the area of cognitive science, above all in criticisms of the so-called 'strong programme' in artificial intelligence. The theory of Gestalt is of course associated most specifically with psychologists of the Berlin (...) school such as Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka. We shall see in what follows, however, that an adequate philosophical understanding of the Gestalt idea and of Ehrenfels' achievement will require a close examination not merely of the work of the Berlin school but also of a much wider tradition in Austrian and German philosophy in general. (shrink)
The author attempts to show how mereology, taken together with certain topological notions, can yield the foundations for future investigations in formal ontology. He also attempts to show how the mereological framework allows for the direct and natural formulation of a series of theses - for example pertaining to the concept of a boundary - which can be only indirectly formulated (if at all) in set-theoretic terms. The far-reaching ain of the present framework is to serve as a basis for (...) a formal ontology of the common-sense world. The author is interested in producing formally precise theories of structures of certain sorts in such a way that it is the structures themselves that intrest him and not formal machinery that has been set up to describe them. Hence the axioms are chosen primarily for the sake of the light they throw on the intended subject-matters (and not for their logical independence). The world itself - or its picture given in ordinary experience - is the only model the paper concentrates upon. Thus for example the presented system allows to prove that every boundary is the boundary of something, and that in particular no point exists in isolation from a large extended whole that is its boundary. (shrink)
A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question?a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face ths proposal. One concerns responsiblity: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more (...) meaning than a life with the same positive outcomes but which lacks responsiblity on the part of the agent? The other turns on these outcomes themselves: how can the meaningfulness engendered by actions you perform now be affected by what those actions go on to produce in the future, perhaps even after your death? We provide a response to both of these difficulties. (shrink)
The present essay is devoted to the application of ontology in support of research in the natural sciences. It defends the thesis that ontologies developed for such purposes should be understood as having as their subject matter, not concepts, but rather the universals and particulars which exist in reality and are captured in scientific laws. We outline the benefits of a view along these lines by showing how it yields rigorous formal definitions of the foundational relations used in many influential (...) ontologies, illustrating our results by reference to examples drawn from the domain of the life sciences. (shrink)
Recent work in formal philosophy has concentrated over-whelmingly on the logical problems pertaining to epistemic shortfall - which is to say on the various ways in which partial and sometimes incorrect information may be stored and processed. A directly depicting language, in contrast, would reflect a condition of epistemic perfection. It would enable us to construct representations not of our knowledge but of the structures of reality itself, in much the way that chemical diagrams allow the representation (at a certain (...) level of abstractness) of the structures of molecules of different sorts. A diagram of such a language would be true if that which it sets out to depict exists in reality, i.e. if the structural relations between the names (and other bits and pieces in the diagram) map structural relations among the corresponding objects in the world. Otherwise it would be false. All of this should, of course, be perfectly familiar. (See, for example, Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1027 b 22, 1051 b 32ff.) The present paper seeks to go further than its predecessors, however, in offering a detailed account of the syntax of a working universal characteristic and of the ways in which it might be used. (shrink)
The truthmaker theory rests on the thesis that the link between a true judgment and that in the world to which it corresponds is not a one-to-one but rather a one-to-many relation. An analogous thesis in relation to the link between a singular term and that in the world to which it refers is already widely accepted. This is the thesis to the effect that singular reference is marked by vagueness of a sort that is best understood in supervaluationist terms. (...) In what follows we show that the supervaluationist approach to singular reference, when wedded to the truthmaker idea, yields a framework of surprising power, which offers a uniform set of solutions to a range of problems regarding identity, reference and knowledge, problems which have hitherto been dealt with on an ad hoc basis. (shrink)
In his latest book, Michael Devitt rejects Chomsky’s mentalist conception of linguistics. The case against Chomsky is based on two principal claims. First, that we can separate the study of linguistic competence from the study of its outputs: only the latter belongs to linguistic inquiry. Second, Chomsky’s account of a speaker’s competence as consisiting in the mental representation of rules of a grammar for his language is mistaken. I shall argue, fi rst, that Devitt fails to make a case for (...) separating the study of outputs from the study of competence, and second, that Devitt mis-characterises Chomsky’s account of competence, and so his objections miss their target. Chomsky’s own views come close to a denial that speaker’s have knowledge of their language. But a satisfactory account of what speakers are able to do will need to ascribe them linguistic knowledge that they use to speak and understand. I shall explore a conception of speaker’s knowledge of language that confi rms Chomsky’s mentalist view of linguistics but which is immune to Devitt’s criticisms. (shrink)
The essay constructs an ontological theory designed to capture the categories instantiated in those portions or levels of reality which are captured in our common sense conceptual scheme. It takes as its starting point an Aristotelian ontology of “substances” and “accidents”, which are treated via the instruments of mereology and topology. The theory recognizes not only individual parts of substances and accidents, including the internal and external boundaries of these, but also universal parts, such as the “humanity” which is an (...) essential part of both Tom and Dick, and also “individual relations”, such as Tom’s promise to Dick, or their current handshake. (shrink)
A sketch of the history of the opposition between propositional and practical knowledge is followed by a brief account of the relevant ideas of Merleau-Ponty, Polanyi, and H. and S. Dreyfus (on expertise and artificial intelligence). The paper concludes with a discussion of the work of Ryle on the notion of a ‘discipline’, drawing implications for a theory of traditions.
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 (...) to include all green plants. The PO was the first multi-species anatomy ontology developed for the annotation of genes and phenotypes. Also, to our knowledge, it was one of the first biological ontologies that provides translations (via synonyms) in non-English languages such as Japanese and Spanish. There are about 2.2 million annotations linking PO terms to over 110,000 unique data objects representing genes or gene models, proteins, RNAs, germplasm and Quantitative Traits Loci (QTLs) from 22 plant species. In this paper, we focus on the plant anatomical entity branch of the PO, describing the organizing principles, resources available to users, and examples of how the PO is integrated into other plant genomics databases and web portals. We also provide two examples of comparative analyses, demonstrating how the ontology structure and PO-annotated data can be used to discover the patterns of expression of the LEAFY (LFY) and terpene synthase (TPS) gene homologs. (shrink)
When does a human being begin to exist? We argue that it is possible, through a combination of biological fact and philosophical analysis, to provide a definitive answer to this question. We lay down a set of conditions for being a human being, and we determine when, in the course of normal fetal development, these conditions are first satisfied. Issues dealt with along the way include: modes of substance-formation, twinning, the nature of the intra-uterine environment, and the nature of the (...) relation between fetus and mother (connection, parthood, dependence). (shrink)
The value of any kind of data is greatly enhanced when it exists in a form that allows it to be integrated with other data. One approach to integration is through the annotation of multiple bodies of data using common controlled vocabularies or ‘ontologies’. Unfortunately, the very success of this approach has led to a proliferation of ontologies which itself creates obstacles to integration. The Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) consortium has set in train a strategy to overcome this problem. Existing (...) OBO ontologies, including the Gene Ontology, are undergoing a process of coordinated reform and new ontologies being created on the basis of an evolving set of shared principles governing ontology development. The result is an expanding family of ontologies designed to be interoperable, logically well-formed, and to incorporate accurate representations of biological reality. We describe the OBO Foundry initiative, and provide guidelines for those who might wish to become involved. (shrink)
There are, familiarly, a range of distinct and competing accounts of the methodological underpinnings of Menger' s work. These include Leibnizian, Kantian, Millian, and even Popperian readings; but they include also readings of an Aristotelian sort, and I have myself made a number of contributions in clarification and defence of the latter. Not only, I have argued, does the historical situation in which Menger found himself point to the inevitability of the Aristotelian reading; this reading fits also very naturally to (...) the text of Menger's works. (shrink)
Changes in an upper level ontology have obvious conse-quences for the domain ontologies that use it at lower levels. It is therefore crucial to document the changes made between successive versions of ontologies of this kind. We describe and apply a method for tracking, explaining and measuring changes between successive versions of upper level ontologies such as the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). The proposed change-tracking method extends earlier work on Realism-Based Ontology Versioning (RBOV) and Evolutionary Terminology Auditing (ETA). We describe (...) here the application of this evaluation method to changes between BFO 1.0, BFO 1.1, and BFO 2.0. We discuss the issues raised by this application and describe the extensions which we added to the original evaluation schema in order to account for changes in an ontology of this type. Our results show that BFO has undergone eight types of changes that can be systematically explained by the extended evaluation schema. Finally, we discuss problematic cases, possible pitfalls and certain limits of our study that we propose to address in future work. (shrink)
The theory of document acts is an extension of the more traditional theory of speech acts advanced by Austin and Searle. It is designed to do justice to the ways in which documents can be used to bring about a variety of effects in virtue of the fact that, where speech is evanescent, documents are continuant entities. This means that documents can be preserved in such a way that they can be inspected and modified at successive points in time and (...) grouped together into enduring document complexes. We outline some components of a theory of document acts, and show how it can throw light on certain problems in Searle’s ontology of social reality. (shrink)
We present an ontology of pain and of other pain-related phenomena, building on the definition of pain provided by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Our strategy is to identify an evolutionarily basic canonical pain phenomenon, involving unpleasant sensory and emotional experience based causally in localized tissue damage that is concordant with that experience. We then show how different variant cases of this canonical pain phenomenon can be distinguished, including pain that is elevated relative to peripheral trauma, (...) pain that is caused neuropathically (thus with no necessary peripheral stimulus), and pain reports arising through deception either of self or of others. We describe how our approach can answer some of the objections raised against the IASP definition, and sketch how it can be used to support more sophisticated discrimination of different types of pain resulting in improved data analysis that can help in advancing pain research. (shrink)
‘Eruv’ is a Hebrew word meaning literally ‘mixture’ or ‘mingling’. An eruv is an urban region demarcated within a larger urban region by means of a boundary made up of telephone wires or similar markers. Through the creation of the eruv, the smaller region is turned symbolically (halachically = according to Jewish law) into a private domain. So long as they remain within the boundaries of the eruv, Orthodox Jews may engage in activities that would otherwise be prohibited on the (...) Sabbath, such as pushing prams or wheelchairs, or carrying walking sticks. There are eruvim in many towns and university campuses throughout the world. There are five eruvim in Chicago, five in Brooklyn, twenty three in Queens and Long Island, and at least three in Manhattan. The US Supreme Court is (like most other major US Federal Government buildings) located within the eruv of Washington DC. In many cases, not all of those living within or near the area of an actual or proposed eruv will themselves be Orthodox Jews, and this has sometimes led to protests against eruv creation. It is such protests which triggered the writing of this essay. (shrink)
A collection of material on Husserl's Logical Investigations, and specifically on Husserl's formal theory of parts, wholes and dependence and its influence in ontology, logic and psychology. Includes translations of classic works by Adolf Reinach and Eugenie Ginsberg, as well as original contributions by Wolfgang Künne, Kevin Mulligan, Gilbert Null, Barry Smith, Peter M. Simons, Roger A. Simons and Dallas Willard. Documents work on Husserl's ontology arising out of early meetings of the Seminar for Austro-German Philosophy.
Austrian economics starts out from the thesis that the objects of economic science differ from those of the natural sciences because of the centrality of the economic agent. This allows a certain a priori or essentialistic aspect to economic science of a sort which parallels the a priori dimension of psychology defended by Brentano and his student Edmund Husserl. We outline these parallels, and show how the theory of a priori dependence relations outlined in Husserl’s Logical Investigations can throw light (...) on the Austrian account of entrepreneurship. (shrink)
There is a basic distinction, in the realm of spatial boundaries, between bona fide boundaries on the one hand, and fiat boundaries on the other. The former are just the physical boundaries of old. The latter are exemplified especially by boundaries induced through human demarcation, for example in the geographic domain. The classical problems connected with the notions of adjacency, contact, separation and division can be resolved in an intuitive way by recognizing this two-sorted ontology of boundaries. Bona fide boundaries (...) yield a notion of contact that is effectively modeled by classical topology; the analogue of contact involving fiat boundaries calls, however, for a different account, based on the intuition that fiat boundaries do not support the open/closed distinction on which classical topology is based. In the presence of this two-sorted ontology it then transpires that mereotopology—topology erected on a mereological basis—is more than a trivial formal variant of classical point-set topology. (shrink)
To understand what ontologies do through their definitions, we propose a theoretical explanation of the functions of definitions in ontologies backed by empirical neuropsychological studies. Our goal is to show how these functions should motivate (i) the systematic inclusion of definitions in ontologies and (ii) the adaptation of definition content and form to the specific context of use of ontologies.