• University at Buffalo
    Department of Philosophy
    Biomedical Informatics
    Computer Science and Engineering
    Distinguished Professor, Julian Park Chair
University of Manchester
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1976
APA Eastern Division
Buffalo, New York, United States of America
  •  1346
    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…Read more
  •  1343
    Do mountains exist? Towards an ontology of landforms
    with David Mark
    Environment and Planning B (Planning and Design) 30 (3). 2003.
    Do mountains exist? The answer to this question is surely: yes. In fact, ‘mountain’ is the example of a kind of geographic feature or thing most commonly cited by English speakers (Mark, et al., 1999; Smith and Mark 2001), and this result may hold across many languages and cultures. But whether they are considered as individuals (tokens) or as kinds (types), mountains do not exist in quite the same unequivocal sense as do such prototypical everyday objects as chairs or people.
  •  1274
    The Space Object Ontology
    with Alexander P. Cox, Christopher Nebelecky, Ronald Rudnicki, William Tagliaferri, and John L. Crassidis
    Achieving space domain awareness requires the identification, characterization, and tracking of space objects. Storing and leveraging associated space object data for purposes such as hostile threat assessment, object identification, and collision prediction and avoidance present further challenges. Space objects are characterized according to a variety of parameters including their identifiers, design specifications, components, subsystems, capabilities, vulnerabilities, origins, missio…Read more
  •  1270
    The evaluation of ontologies: Toward improved semantic interoperability
    with Leo Obrst, Werner Ceusters, Inderjeet Mani, and Steve Ray
    In Chris Baker & Kei H. Cheung (eds.), Semantic Web: Revolutionizing Knowledge Discovery in the Life Sciences, Springer. pp. 139-158. 2006.
    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 wil…Read more
  •  1247
    with Kevin Mulligan and Peter Simons
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 44 (3): 287-321. 1984.
    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 truthmaki…Read more
  •  1147
    The book’s core argument is that an artificial intelligence that could equal or exceed human intelligence—sometimes called artificial general intelligence (AGI)—is for mathematical reasons impossible. It offers two specific reasons for this claim: Human intelligence is a capability of a complex dynamic system—the human brain and central nervous system. Systems of this sort cannot be modelled mathematically in a way that allows them to operate inside a computer. In supporting their claim, the …Read more
  •  1125
    Towards an Ontological Representation of Resistance: The Case of MRSA
    with Albert Goldfain and Lindsay G. Cowell
    Journal of Biomedical Informatics 44 (1): 35-41. 2011.
    This paper addresses a family of issues surrounding the biological phenomenon of resistance and its representation in realist ontologies. The treatments of resistance terms in various existing ontologies are examined and found to be either overly narrow, internally inconsistent, or otherwise problematic. We propose a more coherent characterization of resistance in terms of what we shall call blocking dispositions, which are collections of mutually coordinated dispositions which are of such a sor…Read more
  •  1092
    That uses of language not only can, but even normally do, have the character of actions was a fact largely unrealised by those engaged in the study of language before the present century, at least in the sense that there was lacking any attempt to come to terms systematically with the action-theoretic peculiarities of language use. Where the action-character of linguistic phenomena was acknowledged, it was normally regarded as a peripheral matter, relating to derivative or nonstandard aspects of…Read more
  •  1072
    Questions: An essay in Daubertian phenomenology
    with Karl Schuhmann
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (3): 353-384. 1987.
    A number of logicians and philosophers have turned their attention in recent years to the problem of developing a logic of interrogatives. Their work has thrown a great deal of light on the formal properties of questions and question-sentences and has led also to interesting innovations in our understanding of the structures of performatives in general and, for example, in the theory of presuppositions. When, however, we examine the attempts of logicians such as Belnap or Åqvist to specify…Read more
  •  1031
    This introduction to the second international conference on Formal Ontology and Information Systems presents a brief history of ontology as a discipline spanning the boundaries of philosophy and information science. We sketch some of the reasons for the growth of ontology in the information science field, and offer a preliminary stocktaking of how the term ‘ontology’ is currently used. We conclude by suggesting some grounds for optimism as concerns the future collaboration between philosophical …Read more
  •  1029
    Ontology-based fusion of sensor data and natural language
    with Erik Thomsen
    Applied ontology 13 (4): 295-333. 2018.
    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…Read more
  •  1019
    The Emotion Ontology: Enabling Interdisciplinary Research in the Affective Sciences
    with Janna Hastings, Werner Ceusters, and Kevin Mulligan
    In M. Beigl, H. Christiansen, T. Roth-Berghofer, A. Kofod-Petersen, K. R. Coventry & H. R. Schmidtke (eds.), CONTEXT, The Seventh International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context, Springer. pp. 119--123. 2011.
    Affective science conducts interdisciplinary research into the emotions and other affective phenomena. Currently, such research is hampered by the lack of common definitions of terms used to describe, categorise and report both individual emotional experiences and the results of scientific investigations of such experiences. High quality ontologies provide formal definitions for types of entities in reality and for the relationships between such entities, definitions which can be used to disambi…Read more
  •  1005
    CIDO, a community-based ontology for coronavirus disease knowledge and data integration, sharing, and analysis
    with Oliver He, John Beverley, Gilbert S. Omenn, Brian Athey, Luonan Chen, Xiaolin Yang, Junguk Hur, Hsin-hui Huang, Anthony Huffman, Yingtong Liu, Yang Wang, Edison Ong, and Hong Yu
    Scientific Data 181 (7): 5. 2020.
    Ontologies, as the term is used in informatics, are structured vocabularies comprised of human- and computer-interpretable terms and relations that represent entities and relationships. Within informatics fields, ontologies play an important role in knowledge and data standardization, representation, integra- tion, sharing and analysis. They have also become a foundation of artificial intelligence (AI) research. In what follows, we outline the Coronavirus Infectious Disease Ontology (CIDO), w…Read more
  •  993
    We describe a strategy for integration of data that is based on the idea of semantic enhancement. The strategy promises a number of benefits: it can be applied incrementally; it creates minimal barriers to the incorporation of new data into the semantically enhanced system; it preserves the existing data (including any existing data-semantics) in their original form (thus all provenance information is retained, and no heavy preprocessing is required); and it embraces the full spectrum of data so…Read more
  •  981
    Framework for formal ontology
    Topoi 2 (1): 73-85. 1983.
    The discussions which follow rest on a distinction, first expounded by Husserl, between formal logic and formal ontology. The former concerns itself with (formal) meaning-structures; the latter with formal structures amongst objects and their parts. The paper attempts to show how, when formal ontological considerations are brought into play, contemporary extensionalist theories of part and whole, and above all the mereology of Leniewski, can be generalised to embrace not only relations between c…Read more
  •  978
    Practical Knowledge: Outlines of a Theory of Traditions and Skills (edited book)
    with J. C. Nyíri
    Croom Helm. 1988.
    A series of papers on different aspects of practical knowledge by Roderick Chisholm, Rudolf Haller, J. C. Nyiri, Eva Picardi, Joachim Schulte Roger Scruton, Barry Smith and Johan Wrede.
  •  962
    As Kevin Mulligan, more than anyone else, has demonstrated, there is a distinction within the philosophy of the German-speaking world between two principal currents: of idealism / transcendentalism, characteristic of Northern Germany; and of realism / objectivism, characteristic of Austria and the South. We explore some of the implications of this distinction with reference to the influence of Austrian (and German) philosophy on philosophical developments in Hungary, focusing on the work of Ákos…Read more
  •  952
    Formal ontology, common sense, and cognitive science
    International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 43 (5-6). 1995.
    Common sense is on the one hand a certain set of processes of natural cognition - of speaking, reasoning, seeing, and so on. On the other hand common sense is a system of beliefs (of folk physics, folk psychology and so on). Over against both of these is the world of common sense, the world of objects to which the processes of natural cognition and the corresponding belief-contents standardly relate. What are the structures of this world? How does the scientific treatment of this world relate to…Read more
  •  942
    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 innovatio…Read more
  •  934
    Rationality in Action: A Symposium
    Philosophical Explorations 4 (2): 66-94. 2001.
    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 …Read more
  •  930
    Towards an ontology of pain
    with Werner Ceusters, Louis J. Goldberg, and Richard Ohrbach
    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 pa…Read more
  •  929
    Functions in Basic Formal Ontology
    with Andrew D. Spear and Werner Ceusters
    Applied ontology 11 (2): 103-128. 2016.
    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 o…Read more
  •  928
    Characteristica Universalis
    In Kevin Mulligan (ed.), Language, Truth and Ontology, Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 48--77. 1992.
    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 re…Read more
  •  921
    Austrian Economics and Austrian Philosophy
    In Wolfgang Grassl & Barry Smith (eds.), Austrian Economics: Historical and Philosophical Background, Croom Helm, Reprinted: Routledge Revivals, 2010. pp. 1-36. 1986.
    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 …Read more
  •  907
    The majority of the papers in the present volume were presented at, or prepared in conjunction with, meetings of the Seminar for Austro-German Philosophy, a group of philosophers interested in the work of Brentano and Husserl and of the...
  •  906
    This paper is a contribution to the historical roots of the analytical tradition. As Michael Dummett points out in his Origins of Analytic Philosophy, many tendencies in Central European thought contributed to the early development of analytic philosophy. Dummett himself concentrates on just one aspect of this historical complex, namely on the relationship between the theories of meaning and reference developed by Frege and by Husserl in the years around the turn of the century. It is to this sp…Read more
  •  899
    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…Read more
  •  883
    Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD) for clinical and research applications
    with Eric Schiffman, Richard Ohrbach, E. Truelove, Edmond Truelove, John Look, Gary Anderson, Werner Ceusters, and Others
    Journal of Oral and Facial Pain and Headache 28 (1): 6-27. 2014.
    Aims: The Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandi¬bular Disorders (RDC/TMD) Axis I diagnostic algorithms were demonstrated to be reliable but below target sensitivity and specificity. Empirical data supported Axis I algorithm revisions that were valid. Axis II instruments were shown to be both reliable and valid. An international consensus workshop was convened to obtain recommendations and finalization of new Axis I diagnostic algorithms and new Axis II instruments. Methods: A comprehensi…Read more
  •  865
    The Ontology of Fields (edited book)
    with Donna Peuquet and Berit O. Brogaard
    National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. 1998.
    In the specific case of geography, the real world consists on the one hand of physical geographic features (bona fide objects) and on the other hand of various fiat objects, for example legal and administrative objects, including parcels of real estate, areas of given soil types, census tracts, and so on. It contains in addition the beliefs and actions of human beings directed towards these objects (for example, the actions of those who work in land registries or in census bureaux), and the rela…Read more