The Infectious Disease Ontology (IDO) is a suite of interoperable ontology modules that aims to provide coverage of all aspects of the infectious disease domain, including biomedical research, clinical care, and public health. IDO Core is designed to be a disease and pathogen neutral ontology, covering just those types of entities and relations that are relevant to infectious diseases generally. IDO Core is then extended by a collection of ontology modules focusing on specific diseases and pathogens. In this paper we (...) present applications of IDO Core within various areas of infectious disease research, together with an overview of all IDO extension ontologies and the methodology on the basis of which they are built. We also survey recent developments involving IDO, including the creation of IDO Virus; the Coronaviruses Infectious Disease Ontology (CIDO); and an extension of CIDO focused on COVID-19 (IDO-CovID-19).We also discuss how these ontologies might assist in information-driven efforts to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to accelerate data discovery in the early stages of future pandemics, and to promote reproducibility of infectious disease research. (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’ in this sense 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’. But in recent years, in a development hardly noticed by philosophers, the (...) term ‘ontology’ has gained currency in the field of computer and information science, and in information-driven research in bioinformatics and related areas. We examine these new developments in applied ontology, and show what lessons they might have for both philosophers and information scientists. (shrink)
The manufacturing industry is evolving rapidly, becoming more complex, more interconnected, and more geographically distributed. Competitive pressure and diversity of consumer demand are driving manufacturing companies to rely more and more on improved knowledge management practices. As a result, multiple software systems are being created to support the integration of data across the product life cycle. Unfortunately, these systems manifest a low degree of interoperability, and this creates problems, for instance when different enterprises or different branches of an enterprise interact. (...) Common ontologies (consensus-based controlled vocabularies) have proved themselves in various domains as a valuable tool for solving such problems. In this paper, we present a consensus-based Additive Manufacturing Ontology (AMO) and illustrate its application in promoting re-usability in the field of dentistry product manufacturing. (shrink)
Searle’s tool for understanding culture, law and society is the opposition between brute reality and institutional reality, or in other words between: observer-independent features of the world, such as force, mass and gravitational attraction, and observer-relative features of the world, such as money, property, marriage and government. The question posed here is: under which of these two headings do moral concepts fall? This is an important question because there are moral facts – for example pertaining to guilt and responsibility – (...) which hover uncomfortably close to the boundary between the observer-relative and the observer-independent. By means of a thought experiment involving an imagined Chinese society in which guilt is determined by the random throwing of sticks, I seek to show that moral concepts threaten the foundations of Searle’s philosophy of social reality. (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)
The intelligence community relies on human-machine-based analytic strategies that 1) access and integrate vast amounts of information from disparate sources, 2) continuously process this information, so that, 3) a maximally comprehensive understanding of world actors and their behaviors can be developed and updated. Herein we describe an approach to utilizing outcomes-based learning (OBL) to support these efforts that is based on an ontology of the cognitive processes performed by intelligence analysts.
In the era of “big data,” science is increasingly information driven, and the potential for computers to store, manage, and integrate massive amounts of data has given rise to such new disciplinary fields as biomedical informatics. Applied ontology offers a strategy for the organization of scientific information in computer-tractable form, drawing on concepts not only from computer and information science but also from linguistics, logic, and philosophy. This book provides an introduction to the field of applied ontology that is of (...) particular relevance to biomedicine, covering theoretical components of ontologies, best practices for ontology design, and examples of biomedical ontologies in use. -/- After defining an ontology as a representation of the types of entities in a given domain, the book distinguishes between different kinds of ontologies and taxonomies, and shows how applied ontology draws on more traditional ideas from metaphysics. It presents the core features of the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), now used by over one hundred ontology projects around the world, and offers examples of domain ontologies that utilize BFO. The book also describes Web Ontology Language (OWL), a common framework for Semantic Web technologies. Throughout, the book provides concrete recommendations for the design and construction of domain ontologies. (shrink)
The ability to access and share data is key to optimizing and streamlining any industrial production process. Unfortunately, the manufacturing industry is stymied by a lack of interoperability among the systems by which data are produced and managed, and this is true both within and across organizations. In this paper, we describe our work to address this problem through the creation of a suite of modular ontologies representing the product life cycle and its successive phases, from design to end of (...) life. We call this suite the Product Life Cycle (PLC) Ontologies. The suite extends proximately from The Common Core Ontologies (CCO) used widely in defense and intelligence circles, and ultimately from the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), which serves as top level ontology for the CCO and for some 300 further ontologies. The PLC Ontologies were developed together, but they have been factored to cover particular domains such as design, manufacturing processes, and tools. We argue that these ontologies, when used together with standard public domain alignment and browsing tools created within the context of the Semantic Web, may offer a low-cost approach to solving increasingly costly problems of data management in the manufacturing industry. (shrink)
A realist theory of truth for a class of sentences 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. In contrast to this, we uphold the mutual independence of logical and ontological complexity, and the authors outline formal principles of truthmaking taking account of both kinds of complexity. (shrink)
During the realist revival in the early years of this century, philosophers of various persuasions were concerned to investigate the ontology of truth. That is, whether or not they viewed truth as a correspondence, they were interested in the extent to which one needed to assume the existence of entities serving some role in accounting for the truth of sentences. Certain of these entities, such as the Sätze an sich of Bolzano, the Gedanken of Frege, or the propositions of Russell (...) and Moore, were conceived as the bearers of the properties of truth and falsehood. Some thinkers however, such as Russell, Wittgenstein in the Tractatus, and Husserl in the Logische Untersuchungen, argued that instead of, or in addition to, truth-bearers, one must assume the existence of certain entities in virtue of which sentences and/or propositions are true. Various names were used for these entities, notably 'fact', 'Sachverhalt', and 'state of affairs'. (1) In order not to prejudge the suitability of these words we shall initially employ a more neutral terminology, calling any entities which are candidates for this role truth-makers. (shrink)
Ontologies are being used increasingly to promote the reusability of scientific information by allowing heterogeneous data to be integrated under a common, normalized representation. Definitions play a central role in the use of ontologies both by humans and by computers. Textual definitions allow ontologists and data curators to understand the intended meaning of ontology terms and to use these terms in a consistent fashion across contexts. Logical definitions allow machines to check the integrity of ontologies and reason over data annotated (...) with ontology terms to make inferences that promote knowledge discovery. Therefore, it is important not only to include in ontologies multiple types of definitions in both formal and in natural languages, but also to ensure that these definitions meet good quality standards so they are useful. While tools such as Protégé can assist in creating well-formed logical definitions, producing good definitions in a natural language is still to a large extent a matter of human ingenuity supported at best by just a small number of general principles. For lack of more precise guidelines, definition authors are often left to their own personal devices. This paper aims to fill this gap by providing the ontology community with a set of principles and conventions to assist in definition writing, editing, and validation, by drawing on existing definition writing principles and guidelines in lexicography, terminology, and logic. (shrink)
In this paper we propose an Ontology of Commercial Exchange (OCE) based on Basic Formal Ontology. OCE is designed for re-use in the Industrial Ontologies Foundry (IOF) and in other ontologies addressing different aspects of human social behavior involving purchasing, selling, marketing, and so forth. We first evaluate some of the design patterns used in the Financial Industry Business Ontology (FIBO) and Product Types Ontology (PTO). We then propose terms and definitions that we believe will improve the representation of contractual (...) obligations, sales processes, and their associated documents. A commercial exchange, for instance, involves mutual agreement to reciprocate actions, such as transferring money, performing a service, or transferring goods. (shrink)
To enhance the treatment of relations in biomedical ontologies we advance a methodology for providing consistent and unambiguous formal definitions of the relational expressions used in such ontologies in a way designed to assist developers and users in avoiding errors in coding and annotation. The resulting Relation Ontology can promote interoperability of ontologies and support new types of automated reasoning about the spatial and temporal dimensions of biological and medical phenomena.
What follows is a first step towards an ontology of conscious mental processes. We provide a theoretical foundation and characterization of conscious mental processes based on a realist theory of intentionality and using BFO as our top-level ontology. We distinguish three components of intentional mental process: character, directedness, and objective referent, and describe several features of the process character and directedness significant to defining and classifying mental processes. We arrive at the definition of representational mental process as a process that (...) is the bringing into being, sustaining, modifying, or terminating of a mental representation. We conclude by outlining some benefits and applications of this approach. (shrink)
Artificial intelligence (AI) research enjoyed an initial period of enthusiasm in the 1970s and 80s. But this enthusiasm was tempered by a long interlude of frustration when genuinely useful AI applications failed to be forthcoming. Today, we are experiencing once again a period of enthusiasm, fired above all by the successes of the technology of deep neural networks or deep machine learning. In this paper we draw attention to what we take to be serious problems underlying current views of artificial (...) intelligence encouraged by these successes, especially in the domain of language processing. We then show an alternative approach to language-centric AI, in which we identify a role for philosophy. (shrink)
Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) is a top-level ontology used in hundreds of active projects in scientific and other domains. BFO has been selected to serve as top-level ontology in the Industrial Ontologies Foundry (IOF), an initiative to create a suite of ontologies to support digital manufacturing on the part of representatives from a number of branches of the advanced manufacturing industries. We here present a first draft set of axioms and definitions of an IOF upper ontology descending from BFO. The (...) axiomatization is designed to capture the meanings of terms commonly used in manufacturing and is designed to serve as starting point for the construction of the IOF ontology suite. (shrink)
We will survey a range of ontologies relevant to space and ground system domains. The ontologies form part of the Common Core Ontology ecosystem (CCO) developed under the IARPA KDD initiative. We focus specifically on the Space Domain Ontologies, a suite of ontologies to support space situational awareness, including the Spacecraft Mission Ontology, Spacecraft Ontology, Space Event Ontology and Space Object Ontology.
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)
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)
As engineering applications require management of ever larger volumes of data, ontologies offer the potential to capture, manage, and augment data with the capability for automated reasoning and semantic querying. Unfortunately, considerable barriers hinder wider deployment of ontologies in engineering. Key among these is lack of a shared top-level ontology to unify and organise disparate aspects of the field and coordinate co-development of orthogonal ontologies. As a result, many engineering ontologies are limited to their scope, and functionally difficult to extend (...) or interoperate with other engineering ontologies. This paper demonstrates how the use of a top-level ontology, specifically the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), greatly facilitates interoperability of multiple engineering-related ontologies. We constructed a system of formal linked ontologies by re-engineering legacy ontologies to be conformant with BFO and developing new BFO-conformant ontologies to capture knowledge in the engineering design, enterprise, human factors, manufacturing, and application domain of additive manufacturing. The resulting Integrated Framework for Additively Manufactured Products (IFAMP), including the body knowledge instantiated on its basis, serve as the basis for a proposed Design with Additive Manufacturing Method (DWAM), which we believe can support the design of innovative products with semantically enhanced ideation tools and enhanced access to application domain knowledge. The method and its facilitation through the ontological framework are demonstrated using a case study in medicine. (shrink)
We describe a prototype ontology-driven information system (ODIS) that exploits what we call Portion of Reality (POR) representations. The system takes both sensor data and natural language text as inputs and composes on this basis logically structured POR assertions. The goal of our prototype is to represent both natural language and sensor data within a single framework that is able to support both axiomatic reasoning and computation. In addition, the framework should be capable of discovering and representing new kinds of (...) situations and thematic roles, (e.g., roles such as agent, patient and instrument), based on new compositions of existing representations. We applied our prototype in an intelligence analysis use case to test the hypothesis that a framework of this sort can produce usefully structured information from combined natural language and sensor data inputs. We further tested our hypothesis by adding an enhanced US Air Force ontology framework to our ODIS in order to (1) process a collection of sensor data, intel reports, and mission plans; (2) build composite POR representations from these data; and (3) machine analyze the fused results to infer mission threats. (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. Thus it is intended as a contribution to the history of philosophy. But I hope that it 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 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-Austrian" (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 -- 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)
This paper defends a view of the Gene Ontology (GO) and of Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) as examples of what the manufacturing industry calls product-service systems. This means that they are products bundled with a range of ontology services such as updates, training, help desk, and permanent identifiers. The paper argues that GO and BFO are contrasted in this respect with DOLCE, which approximates more closely to a scientific theory or a scientific publication. The paper provides a detailed overview of (...) ontology services and concludes with a discussion of some implications of the product-service system approach for the understanding of the nature of applied ontology. Ontology developer communities are compared in this respect with developers of scientific theories and of standards (such as W3C). For each of these we can ask: what kinds of products do they develop and what kinds of services do they provide for the users of these products? (shrink)
We propose capability as a universal or type intermediate between function and disposition. A capability is, broadly speaking, a disposition that is of a type whose instances can be evaluated on the basis of how well they are realized. A function, on the view we are proposing, is a capability the possession of which is the rationale for the existence of its bearer. To say for example that a water pump has the function to pump water is to say that (...) the pump exists because something was needed that would pump water. A water pump may have many capabilities, including: to be weatherproof, to run without lubricant, to be transportable, and so forth. But its function is to pump water. We focus here on capabilities possessed by humans – such as piano playing or language using – and we explore the relation between capabilities of these sorts and structures in the brain. (shrink)
Presentiamo qui la traduzione di un lungo saggio sull’ontologia e i sistemi informativi. Abbiamo tradotto la parte più generale con le distinzioni base tra ontologia, metafisica e scienza. L’autore, fornendo un suo punto di vista peculiare sull’ontologia, descrive le diverse questioni e distinzioni connesse all’impresa ontologica, considerando sia il punto di vista dei filosofi che degli informatici.
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
Since 1950, when Alan Turing proposed what has since come to be called the Turing test, the ability of a machine to pass this test has established itself as the primary hallmark of general AI. To pass the test, a machine would have to be able to engage in dialogue in such a way that a human interrogator could not distinguish its behaviour from that of a human being. AI researchers have attempted to build machines that could meet this requirement, (...) but they have so far failed. To pass the test, a machine would have to meet two conditions: (i) react appropriately to the variance in human dialogue and (ii) display a human-like personality and intentions. We argue, first, that it is for mathematical reasons impossible to program a machine which can master the enormously complex and constantly evolving pattern of variance which human dialogues contain. And second, that we do not know how to make machines that possess personality and intentions of the sort we find in humans. Since a Turing machine cannot master human dialogue behaviour, we conclude that a Turing machine also cannot possess what is called “general” Artificial Intelligence. We do, however, acknowledge the potential of Turing machines to master dialogue behaviour in highly restricted contexts, where what is called “narrow” AI can still be of considerable utility. (shrink)
The Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) is an ontology that provides terms with precisely defined meanings to describe all aspects of how investigations in the biological and medical domains are conducted. OBI re-uses ontologies that provide a representation of biomedical knowledge from the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) project and adds the ability to describe how this knowledge was derived. We here describe the state of OBI and several applications that are using it, such as adding semantic expressivity to (...) existing databases, building data entry forms, and enabling interoperability between knowledge resources. OBI covers all phases of the investigation process, such as planning, execution and reporting. It represents information and material entities that participate in these processes, as well as roles and functions. Prior to OBI, it was not possible to use a single internally consistent resource that could be applied to multiple types of experiments for these applications. OBI has made this possible by creating terms for entities involved in biological and medical investigations and by importing parts of other biomedical ontologies such as GO, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (ChEBI) and Phenotype Attribute and Trait Ontology (PATO) without altering their meaning. OBI is being used in a wide range of projects covering genomics, multi-omics, immunology, and catalogs of services. OBI has also spawned other ontologies (Information Artifact Ontology) and methods for importing parts of ontologies (Minimum information to reference an external ontology term (MIREOT)). The OBI project is an open cross-disciplinary collaborative effort, encompassing multiple research communities from around the globe. To date, OBI has created 2366 classes and 40 relations along with textual and formal definitions. The OBI Consortium maintains a web resource providing details on the people, policies, and issues being addressed in association with OBI. (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)
Since 2002 we have been testing and reﬁning a methodology for ontology development that is now being used by multiple groups of researchers in different life science domains. Gary Merrill, in a recent paper in this journal, describes some of the reasons why this methodology has been found attractive by researchers in the biological and biomedical sciences. At the same time he assails the methodology on philosophical grounds, focusing speciﬁcally on our recommendation that ontologies developed for scientiﬁc purposes should be (...) constructed in such a way that their terms are seen as referring to what we call universals or types in reality. As we show, Merrill’s critique is of little relevance to the success of our realist project, since it not only reveals no actual errors in our work but also criticizes views on universals that we do not in fact hold. However, it nonetheless provides us with a valuable opportunity to clarify the realist methodology, and to show how some of its principles are being applied, especially within the framework of the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry initiative. (shrink)
EVERY speaker of a language knows a bewildering variety of linguistic facts, and will come to know many more. It is knowledge that connects sound and meaning. Questions about the nature of this knowledge cannot be separated from fundamental questions about the nature of language. The conception of language we should adopt depends on the part it plays in explaining our knowledge of language. This chapter explores options in accounting for language, and our knowledge of language, and defends the view (...) that individuals’ languages are constituted by the standing knowledge they carry from one speech situation to another. (shrink)
Human cognitive acts are directed towards entities of a wide range of different types. What follows is a new proposal for bringing order into this typological clutter. A categorial scheme for the objects of human cognition should be (1) critical and realistic. Cognitive subjects are liable to error, even to systematic error of the sort that is manifested by believers in the Pantheon of Olympian gods. Thus not all putative object-directed acts should be recognized as having objects of their own. (...) What follows is a categorial scheme that is both critically realistic and comprehensive. Thus it enjoys some of the benefits of linguistic idealism and physicalism, without (or so it is hoped) the corresponding disadvantages of each.The starting point for our categorial scheme is the concept of extended entity. (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)
We propose a modular ontology of the dynamic features of reality. This amounts, on the one hand, to a purely spatial ontology supporting snapshot views of the world at successive instants of time and, on the other hand, to a purely spatiotemporal ontology of change and process. We argue that dynamic spatial ontology must combine these two distinct types of inventory of the entities and relationships in reality, and we provide characterizations of spatiotemporal reasoning in the light of the interconnections (...) between them. (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)
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)
‘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)
Host-microbiome interactions (HMIs) are critical for the modulation of biological processes and are associated with several diseases, and extensive HMI studies have generated large amounts of data. We propose that the logical representation of the knowledge derived from these data and the standardized representation of experimental variables and processes can foster integration of data and reproducibility of experiments and thereby further HMI knowledge discovery. A community-based Ontology of Host-Microbiome Interactions (OHMI) was developed following the OBO Foundry principles. OHMI leverages established (...) ontologies to create logically structured representations of microbiomes, microbial taxonomy, host species, host anatomical entities, and HMIs under different conditions and associated study protocols and types of data analysis and experimental results. (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)
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 (...) provides an account of how cells and subcells relate to objects in reality. We define a notion of well-formedness for partitions, and we give an account of what it means for a partition to project onto objects in reality. We continue by classifying partitions along three axes: (a) in terms of the degree of correspondence between partition cells and objects in reality; (b) in terms of the degree to which a partition represents the mereological structure of the domain it is projected onto; and (c) in terms of the degree of completeness with which a partition represents this domain. (shrink)
Long-standing neglect of the chemical senses in the philosophy of perception is due, mostly, to their being regarded as ‘lower’ senses. Smell, taste, and chemically irritated touch are thought to produce mere bodily sensations. However, empirically informed theories of perception can show how these senses lead to perception of objective properties, and why they cannot be treated as special cases of perception modelled on vision. The senses of taste, touch, and smell also combine to create unified perceptions of flavour. The (...) nature of these multimodal experiences and the character of our awareness of them puts pressure on the traditional idea that each episode of perception goes one or other of the five senses. Thus, the chemical senses, far from being peripheral to the concerns of the philosophy of perception, may hold important clues to the multisensory nature of perception in general. (shrink)
The Matrix exposes us to the uncomfortable worries of philosophical skepticism in an especially compelling way. However, with a bit more reflection, we can see why we need not share the skeptic’s doubts about the existence of the world. Such doubts are appropriate only in the very special context of the philosophical seminar. When we return to normal life we see immediately that they are groundless. Furthermore, we see also the drastic mistake that Cypher commits in turning his back upon (...) reality and re-entering the matrix. Not only does reason compel us to admit the existence of the external world, it also requires us to face this world, to build for ourselves meaningful lives within it, and to engage, as adults, in the serious business of living. (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)
In “On Drawing Lines on a Map” (1995), I suggested that the different ways we have of drawing lines on maps open up a new perspective on ontology, resting on a distinction between two sorts of boundaries: fiat and bona fide. “Fiat” means, roughly: human-demarcation-induced. “Bona fide” means, again roughly: a boundary constituted by some real physical discontinuity. I presented a general typology of boundaries based on this opposition and showed how it generates a corresponding typology of the different sorts (...) of objects which boundaries determine or demarcate. In this paper, I describe how the theory of fiat boundaries has evolved since 1995, how it has been applied in areas such as property law and political geography, and how it is being used in contemporary work in formal and applied ontology, especially within the framework of Basic Formal Ontology. (shrink)