In "On Social Facts" (1989) and subsequent works, Margaret Gilbert has suggested a plural subject account of the semantics of ‘we’ that claims that a central or standard use of ‘we’ is to refer to an existing or anticipated plural subject. This contrasts with the more general approach to treat plural pronouns as expressions referring to certain pluralities. I argue that (i) the plural subject approach cannot account for certain syntactic phenomena and that (ii) the sense of intimacy, which Gilbert (...) cites as evidence for her plural subject account, has a different source than the existence of joint commitments constituting a respective plural subject. Moreover, (iii) there is a wide varie-ty of phenomena in the linguistic record, which, while not constituting conclusive evidence against the plural subject account, nevertheless, are dealt with better by the plurality account. ‘We’ thus refers to pluralities, which may or may not be plural subjects. The precise analysis of ‘we’ thus reveals a multi-layered ontology of groups. (shrink)
In order to develop the ontology of tendencies for use in the representation of medical knowledge, tendencies are compared with other kinds of entities possessing the realizable-realization-structure, specifically: dispositions, propensities, abilities and virtues. The peculiarities of tendencies are discussed and a standard schema of tendency ascription is developed in order to represent the relations between the ascriptions of tendency tokens to particulars and the ascriptions of tendency types to universals. Two non-standard cases and their epistemic variants are discussed.
Being an "untimely review", this paper reviews Aristotle's 'Categories' as if they were published today, in the era of computerised information, where categorisation becomes more and more essential for information retrieval. I suggest a systematic ordering of Aristotle's list of categories and argue that Aristotle's discussion of ontological dependency and his focus on concrete entities are still a source of new insight and can indeed be read as a contribution to the emerging field of applied ontology and ontological engineering.
In order to develop the ontology of tendencies for use in the representation of medical knowledge, tendencies are compared with other kinds of entities possessing the realizable-realization structure, specifically: dispositions, propensities, abilities and virtues. The peculiarities of tendencies are discussed and a standard schema of tendency ascription is developed in order to represent the relations between the ascriptions of tendency tokens to particulars and the ascriptions of tendency types to universals. Two nonstandard cases and their epistemic variants are discussed.
Is a bank note identical with the piece of paper of which it consists? On the one hand, John Searle, in his reply to Barry Smith, suggests that they are “one and the same object” that is a social or non-social object only under certain descriptions. On the other hand, Lynne Rudder Baker puts forward the claim that bank note and paper are distinct entities that are bound together by the relation of material constitution. I suggest two possible analyses for (...) Searle’s description relativity claim, the Alternative Subject Analysis and the Predicate Modification Analysis. On both accounts his identity claim gets into serious trouble. While Baker’s definition of material constitution deals well with the bank note example, it fails to account for the constitution of bearerless social entities and groups. I point out five respects in which social constitution can differ from Baker’s account of material constitution and discuss compositional, institutional and interactional constitution as additional varieties of social constitution. (shrink)
Like the doctrine of the categories in general, Aristotle’s category of the relative fulfils disparate functions: On the one hand, the category of the pros ti fulfils a dialectic or logical function that aims at the avoidance of fallacies. On the other hand, the category respects the peculiar mode of being of the relative. Taking these two different functions into consideration helps with the interpretation of Aristotle’s two definitions of the relative and his treatment of the properties of the relative (...) in Cat. 7, with the question whether corresponding relatives are of equal priority or ontologically independent, with the genus-species problem , and with the categorical classification of potency and act. (shrink)
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)
It has long been a standard practice for the natural sciences to classify things. Thus, it is no wonder that, for two and a half millennia, philosophers have been reflecting on classifications, from Plato and Aristotle to contemporary philosophy of science. Some of the results of these reflections will be presented in this chapter. I will start by discussing a parody of a classification, namely: the purportedly ancient Chinese classification of animals described by Jorge Luis Borges. I will show that (...) many of the mistakes that account for the comic features of this parody appear in real-life scientific databases as well. As examples of the latter, I will discuss the terminology database of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the United States, the NCI Thesaurus. (shrink)
Taking Thomas Aquinas's interpretation of the prologue of St John's gospel (in his Lectura super loannem Evangelium) as example, I first discuss eight differences between medieval biblical interpretation and modern exegesis, especially Aquinas's frequent use of philosophical opinions in interpreting the Bible, taken mostly from Aristotle. Second, I account for these differences by reconstructing Aquinas's hermeneutics, hinging, as is shown, upon the assumption that scripture was authored by God infallible and, therefore, only contains true statements. From this starting point Aquinas (...) is lead to a holistic hermeneutics: The interpretation of a biblical statement can be judged on only within the context of an entire theory of God, the world, and of the interpretation of the other biblical statements. Thirdly, this view is discussed systematically and critically. (shrink)
After a short sketch of Lowe’s account of his four basic categories, I discuss his theory of formal ontological relations and how Lowe wants to account for dispositional predications. I argue that on the ontic level Lowe is a pan-categoricalist, while he is a language dualist and an exemplification dualist with regard to the dispositional/categorical distinction. I argue that Lowe does not present an adequate account of disposition. From an Aristotelian point of view, Lowe conflates dispositional predication with hôs epi (...) to poly statements about what is normally or mostly the case. (shrink)
Statements about the behavior of biochemical entities (e.g., about the interaction between two proteins) abound in the literature on molecular biology and are increasingly becoming the targets of information extraction and text mining techniques. We show that an accurate analysis of the semantics of such statements reveals a number of ambiguities that have to be taken into account in the practice of biomedical ontology engineering: Such statements can not only be understood as event reporting statements, but also as ascriptions of (...) dispositions or tendencies that may or may not refer to collectives of interacting molecules or even to collectives of interaction events. (shrink)
Starting from the early treatise "On Being and Essence", I review issues concerning substances composed of matter and form: their hylomorphic composition, individuation, essence as part and as whole, and the analogy between genus/difference and matter/form. Then I discuss substances separated from matter, which may range from human souls and angels (or intelligences) to God. I then turn to Aquinas's later 'Summa Theologica', where he argues that in the end God cannot possibly belong to the category of substance and discuss (...) possible reasons for Aquinas conflicting accounts on this question. (shrink)
The so-called materially valid inferences have come to new prominence through the work of Robert Brandom. This paper introduces a fragment of a logic of concepts that does not reduce concepts to their extensions. Concept logic and ist semantics allow us to represent the conceptual knowledge used in material inferences and thus suggests a way to deal with them.
There are group-actions, and if actions are intentional, there should also be group-intentions. Who has got these intentions? The groups? This seems to be the natural answer. But then: Groups do not have a mind or brain of there own to form any mental attitude. Different kinds of individualistic analyses of group-intentions have been suggested in the literature. On the one hand there are suggestions to reduce group intentions to a complex of different Iattitudes. John Searle, on the other hand, (...) suggests a special social kind of attitudes, namely we-intentions. We-intentions are being had by individual persons, though they have the form “We intend to do such-and-such”. However, because of the fallibility of Searlian we-intentions and the possibility of ignorance this concept is of no help: We-intentions are neither necessary nor sufficient for group-intentions. In this respect, Margaret Gilbert’s approach is much more successful, though it covers only a special case, namely small-scale informal groups. I suggest a generalised solution in order to cover also large-scale and formal groups. (shrink)
Dispositions and tendencies feature significantly in the biomedical domain and therefore in representations of knowledge of that domain. They are not only important for specific applications like an infectious disease ontology, but also as part of a general strategy for modelling knowledge about molecular interactions. But the task of representing dispositions in some formal ontological systems is fraught with several problems, which are partly due to the fact that Description Logics can only deal well with binary relations. The paper will (...) discuss some of the results of the philosophical debate about dispositions, in order to see whether the formal relations needed to represent dispositions can be broken down to binary relations. Finally, we will discuss problems arising from the possibility of the absence of realizations, of multi-track or multi-trigger dispositions and offer suggestions on how to deal with them. (shrink)
Zuweilen werden der Geschichtsschreibung der Wissenschaftscharakter und historischen Aussagen die Wahrheitsfähigkeit abgesprochen. Ich werde erstens zeigen, dass Aussagen über Vergangenes nicht nur wahrheitsfähig sind, sondern dass einige Aussagen über Vergangenes tatsächlich wahr sind. Zweitens argumentiere ich dafür, dass weder die Gebundenheit an Quellen und die Möglichkeit des Irrtums, noch die Zeit- und Standortgebundenheit historischer Aussagen und eine eventuelle Werthaltigkeit historischer Urteile eine zwingende Gefahr für den Wissenschaftscharakter der Geschichtsschreibung sind. Sie stellen aber besondere Ansprüche an die wissenschaftlichen Tugenden, die ein (...) guter Historiker besitzen muss. Drittens zeige ich, dass die Suche nach historischer Wahrheit nicht nur möglich, sondern für ein funktionierendes gesellschaftliches Zusammenleben auch von größter Bedeutung ist. (shrink)
The 2013 Rostock Symposium on Systems Biology and Bioinformatics in Aging Research was again dedicated to dissecting the aging process using in silico means. A particular focus was on ontologies, as these are a key technology to systematically integrate heterogeneous information about the aging process. Related topics were databases and data integration. Other talks tackled modeling issues and applications, the latter including talks focussed on marker development and cellular stress as well as on diseases, in particular on diseases of kidney (...) and skin. (shrink)
No one influenced and shaped our thinking about dispositions and causal properties more than Aristotle. What he wrote about power (dynamis), nature (physis) and habit (hexis) has been read, systematised and criticised again and again during the history of philosophy. In this chapter I sketch Aristotle's thoughts about dispositions and argue that his theory can still be regarded as a good one.
The constituents of social entities (and of social continuants in particular) determine whether or not a social thing comes to be, persists and perishes. John Searle hints at two very different accounts for the persistence of social entities, a mere past related account and an acceptance theoretic account, whereas Margaret Gilbert's account is based on deontic entities like obligations or joint commitments. I demonstrate that Gilbert's account can also accommodate Searle's examples. While oblivion, protests or violence can be historical causes (...) of the destruction of social entities, they cannot be considered to be the ultimate causes of the perishing from Gilbert's point of view. Social entities rather perish because of the treatises or divorces that dissolve their deontic constituents. (shrink)
Statements about the behavior of biological entities, e.g. about the interaction between two proteins, abound in the literature on molecular biology and are increasingly becoming the targets of information extraction and text mining techniques. We show that an accurate analysis of the semantics of such statements reveals a number of ambiguities that is necessary to take into account in the practice of biomedical ontology engineering. Several concurring formalizations are proposed. Emphasis is laid on the discussion of biological dispositions.
Currently, there is not yet a full-fledged philosophical sub-discipline devoted to artifacts. In order to establish such a general philosophical discourse on artifacts, two topics are of special importance: artifact functionality and artifact categorization. Both are central to the question of what artifacts are in general and in particular. This introduction first presents the current state of the art in the debates on functions, both in general and in the domain of artifacts in particular. It then unfolds the three debates (...) relevant for artifact kinds, namely the ontological, epistemological and semantic debates on artifact categorization, and presents the most important theory options currently under scrutiny in these fields. It proceeds by introducing the contributions in this special issue on the functions and kinds of art works and other artifacts, and discusses possible perspectives for a general philosophy of artifacts. (shrink)
This paper undertakes a philosophical analysis of the speech given by the German writer Martin Walser when the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade was awarded to him in 1998. I reconstruct Walser's infamous claims about the Holocaust and his critique against its presence in the media and discuss Walser's proclamation of a right for disregarding his claims about German normality and his views about private commemoration.
Like the doctrine of the categories in general, Aristotle’s category of the relative fulfils disparate functions: On the one hand, the category of the pros ti fulfils a dialectic or logical function that aims at the avoidance of fallacies. On the other hand, the category respects the peculiar mode of being of the relative. Taking these two different functions into consideration helps with the interpretation of Aristotle’s two definitions of the relative and his treatment of the properties of the relative (...) in Cat. 7, with the question whether corresponding relatives are of equal priority or ontologically independent, with the genus-species problem, and with the categorical classification of potency and act. (shrink)
Aristoteles unterscheidet zwischen zwei Arten, das Wort „dynaton" zu gebrauchen. Die erste dieser beiden Verwendungsweisen dient zur Zuschreibung von Vermögen (dynaton kata dynamin), die zweite entspricht unserer Verwendung des logisch-alethischen Modaloperators „Es ist möglich, dass" (dynaton ou kata dynamin). Ich argumentiere dafür, dass wichtige Unterschiede zwischen Vermögensprädikationen und Modalaussagen bestehen. Ich nenne mehrere Gründe dafür, dass Vermögensprädikationen keine Modalaussagen sind, zeige aber auch, dass Vermögensprädikationen zwei modale Elemente haben: Sie implizieren erstens nichttriviale Modalaussagen, weil es keine Vermögen für Unmögliches gibt. (...) Und sie implizieren zweitens nichttriviale Aussagen über kontrafaktische Situationen, weil sie Aussagen über kausale Rollen sind. (shrink)
This paper is a critical study of Strobach's (1998) monograph. I argue that Strobach's analysis of Aristotle's concept of the primary time of an event is to narrow and that it unnecessarily excludes activities (which Aristotle calls energeia as opposed to kinesis). Special attention is also given to Strobach's definition and use of his State-prefix and to the formalization of his concept of empirical limes.
In 'Metaphysics IX.6' (1048b 18-35) Aristotle presents a test to distinguish between "kinesis" and "energeia," based on relations between the perfective and the imperfective aspect of the verb. This passage has been interpreted as drawing a linguistic distinction between classes of verbs (e.g., stative verbs) by means of a linguistic criterion (Ackrill, Graham). But such an interpretation is in conflict with the text. Aristotle's test must, therefore, be understood as a metaphysical criterion between items in the world (rather than lingual (...) items) by means of a metaphysical criterion, exploiting properties of these items. These items are events, and 'Metaphysics IX.6' exhibits Aristotle's awareness to certain topics discussed in modern event ontology. (shrink)
Es gibt Staaten und Fußballmannschaften, Fakultäten und Punkbands. Und mansollte meinen, daß diese Entitäten etwas gemeinsam haben, daß sie zu ein und derselben ontologischen Kategorie gehören. Und daß sie sich unterscheiden von Elektronen, Tischen, Grizzlybären, einem Zehn-Euro-Schein, dem neuen Präsidenten, der Amtseinführung des neuen Präsidenten und der Tatsache, daß ich einen Vortrag halte. Mein Ziel ist es, zu zeigen, daß die Kategorie, die alle Beispiele der ersten Gruppe umfaßt, aber keines der zweiten Gruppe, die Kategorie der vereinten Pluralpersonen ist. Um (...) diese These stark zu machen, muß ich zunächst eine Reihe ontologischer Unterscheidungen diskutieren. Zunächst werde ich die Begriffe des Statusobjekts und des Pluralobjekts einführen, zwei relativ neue ontologische Kategorien. Sodann werde ich die traditionellen Kategorien der Substanz und der Person diskutieren, wobei ich mit Hilfe der zuvor eingeführten Begriffe des Statusobjekts und des Pluralobjekts verschiedene Arten von Personen unterscheiden werde. Die natürlichen Personen bilden nur eine dieser Arten, wenn auch die Art von Personen, zu der wir selber als Individuen gehören. Nach diesen Vorarbeiten stehen die Hilfsmittel bereit, die zu Beginn angeführten Beispiele zu kategorisieren. (shrink)
Die Zeiten, in denen der Leib-Seele-Dualismus als Ansatz der Philosophie des Geistes durch ein herrschendes Dogma als diskussionsunwürdig galt, sind vorbei. Der Dualismus darf wieder diskutiert werden. Er muß diskutiert werden, wenn in diskussionswürdiger Strenge für ihn argumentiert wird – auch wenn das, wie sich zeigen wird, manchmal ein ziemlich technisches Geschäft ist. In diesem Sinne soll im folgenden Richard Swinburnes Versuch behandelt werden, die Existenz einer Seele und damit die Wahrheit des Substanzdualismus aus einigen zunächst recht unspektakulär aussehenden Prämissen (...) mit Hilfe der modernen Modallogik formal zu beweisen. Zugleich sei damit auf eine kleine Debatte aufmerksam gemacht, die sich inzwischen um Swinburnes Argument entwickelt hat. Die Untersuchung führt zu einem doppelten negativen Ergebnis: Zum einen sind Swinburnes Prämissen nicht plausibel, zum anderen ist ein wichtiger Teil seines Beweisversuches formal nicht in Ordnung. Swinburnes Argument ist also weder überzeugend noch gültig . Allerdings ist das nicht auf den ersten Blick ersichtlich, denn Swinburnes Argument ist alles andere als trivial. Eine eingehende Kritik dieses Arguments soll zeigen, daß, selbst wenn der Dualismus wahr sein sollte, er nicht ganz so einleuchtend ist, wie Swinburne meint. (shrink)
After a short sketch of Lowe's account of his four basic categories, I discuss his theory of formal ontological relations and how Lowe wants to account for dispositional predications. I argue that on the ontic level Lowe is a pan-categoricalist, while he is a language dualist and an exemplification dualist with regard to the dispositional/categorical distinction. I argue that Lowe does not present an adequate account of disposition. From an Aristotelian point of view, Lowe conflates dispositional predication with 'hôs epi (...) to poly' statements about what is normally or mostly the case. (shrink)