• 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
  •  16328
    In Luciano Floridi (ed.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information, Blackwell. pp. 155-166. 2003.
    Ontology as a branch of philosophy is the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality. ‘Ontology’ 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 ter…Read more
  •  5964
    Foundations of Gestalt Theory (edited book)
    Philosophia. 1988.
    In 1890 Christian von Ehrenfels published his classic paper "Über 'Gestaltqualitäten'", the first systematic investigation of the philosophy and psychology of Gestalt. Ehrenfels thereby issued an important challenge to the psychological atomism that was still predominant in his day. His paper not only exerted a powerful influence on the philosophy of the Meinong school, it also marked the beginning of the Gestalt tradition in psychology, later associated with the work of Wertheimer, Köhler and K…Read more
  •  4353
    In G. Hurtado & O. Nudler (eds.), El mobiliario del mundo: Ensayos de ontología, Universidad Autónoma De México. 2007.
    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.
  •  4163
    Ontology and Cognitive Outcomes
    with David Limbaugh, Jobst Landgrebe, David Kasmier, Ronald Rudnicki, and James Llinas
    Journal of Knowledge Structures and Systems 1 (1). 2020.
    The term ‘intelligence’ as used in this paper refers to items of knowledge collected for the sake of assessing and maintaining national security. The intelligence community (IC) of the United States (US) is a community of organizations that collaborate in collecting and processing intelligence for the US. The IC 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…Read more
  •  4055
    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…Read more
  •  3073
    Guidelines for writing definitions in ontologies
    with Selja Seppälä and Alan Ruttenberg
    Ciência da Informação 46 (1). 2017.
    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 integr…Read more
  •  2799
    Visceral Values: Aurel Kolnai on Disgust
    In Barry Smith & Carolyn Korsmeyer (eds.), Aurel Kolnai's On Disgust, Open Court Publishing Company. pp. 1-23. 2004.
    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 …Read more
  •  2777
    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 influe…Read more
  •  2716
    Applied Ontology: An Introduction (edited book)
    ontos. 2008.
    Ontology is the philosophical discipline which aims to understand how things in the world are divided into categories and how these categories are related together. This is exactly what information scientists aim for in creating structured, automated representations, called 'ontologies,' for managing information in fields such as science, government, industry, and healthcare. Currently, these systems are designed in a variety of different ways, so they cannot share data with one another. They ar…Read more
  •  2622
    In Defense of Truth: Skepticism, Morality, and The Matrix
    with J. Erion Gerald
    In William Irwin (ed.), Philosophy and The Matrix, Open Court. pp. 16-27. 2002.
    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…Read more
  •  2467
    A Product Life Cycle Ontology for Additive Manufacturing
    with Munira Mohd Ali, Rahul Rai, and J. Neil Otte
    Computers in Industry 105 191-203. 2019.
    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 pro…Read more
  •  2281
    The Construction of Social Reality: An Exchange
    American Journal of Economics and Sociology 62 (2): 285-309. 2003.
    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 bank's computers, however, the formula fails, because these are cases of what he calls ‘free-s…Read more
  •  2194
    ‘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 …Read more
  •  2087
    Knowing How vs. Knowing That
    In J. C. Nyíri & Barry Smith (eds.), Practical Knowledge: Outlines of a Theory of Traditions and Skills, Croom Helm. pp. 1-16. 1988.
    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.
  •  1829
    The Relevance of Philosophical Ontology to Information and Computer Science
    In Ruth Hagengruber & Uwe Riss (eds.), Philosophy, Computing and Information Science, Chatto & Pickering. pp. 75-83. 2014.
    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.
  •  1802
    An Ontological Approach to Representing the Product Life Cycle
    with J. Neil Otte, Dimitris Kiritsi, Munira Mohd Ali, Ruoyu Yang, Binbin Zhang, Ron Rudnicki, and Rahul Rai
    Applied ontology 14 (2): 1-19. 2019.
    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 en…Read more
  •  1687
    The Substitution Theory of Art
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 25 (1): 533-557. 1985.
    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 …Read more
  •  1622
    Basic concepts of formal ontology
    In Nicola Guarino (ed.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems, Ios Press. pp. 19-28. 1998.
    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. T…Read more
  •  1598
    Mach and Ehrenfels: The foundations of Gestalt Theory
    In Barry Smith (ed.), Foundations of Gestalt Theory, Philosophia Verlag. pp. 124-157. 1988.
    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…Read more
  •  1580
    Basic Formal Ontology was created in 2002 as an upper-level ontology to support the creation of consistent lower-level ontologies, initially in the subdomains of biomedical research, now also in other areas, including defense and security. BFO is currently undergoing revisions in preparation for the release of BFO version 2.0. We summarize some of the proposed revisions in what follows, focusing on BFO’s treatment of material entities, and specifically of the category object
  •  1553
    Function, role and disposition in Basic Formal Ontology
    with Robert Arp
    Proceedings of Bio-Ontologies Workshop, Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB), Toronto. 2008.
    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 motivat…Read more
  •  1399
    The Infectious Disease Ontology in the Age of COVID-19
    with Shane Babcock, Lindsay G. Cowell, and John Beverley
    Journal of Biomedical Semantics 12 (13). 2021.
    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 patho…Read more
  •  1398
    The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality (edited book)
    with David M. Mark and Isaac Ehrlich
    Open Court. 2008.
    John Searle’s The Construction of Social Reality and Hernando de Soto’s The Mystery of Capital shifted the focus of current thought on capital and economic development to the cultural and conceptual ideas that underpin market economies and that are taken for granted in developed nations. This collection of essays assembles 21 philosophers, economists, and political scientists to help readers understand these exciting new theories.
  •  1387
    Making AI Meaningful Again
    Synthese 198 (March): 2061-2081. 2021.
    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 artifi…Read more
  •  1363
    Online collection of papers by Devitt, Dretske, Guarino, Hochberg, Jackson, Petitot, Searle, Tye, Varzi and other leading thinkers on philosophy and the foundations of cognitive Science. Topics dealt with include: Wittgenstein and Cognitive Science, Content and Object, Logic and Foundations, Language and Linguistics, and Ontology and Mereology.
  •  1355
    Husserl’s Logical Investigations
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 27 (1): 199-207. 1986.
    The magisterial analyses of logic and meaning advanced in Husserl's Logical Investigations of 1900/01 have for a number of reasons been neglected by analytical philosophers in subsequent decades. This state of affairs has to do, in part, with the history of the editions and translations of Husserl's writings. Findlay's readable but imperfect translation appeared seventy years after the work itself was first published, and the editors and translators and expositors of Husserl's works have reflect…Read more
  •  1330
    Aristotle, Menger, Mises: An essay in the metaphysics of economics
    History of Political Economy, Annual Supplement 22 263-288. 1990.
    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 …Read more
  •  1322
    There is a narrow thread in the vast literature on Kafka which pertains to Kafka’s knowledge of philosophy, and more precisely to Kafka’s use in his fictional writings of some of the main ideas of Franz Brentano. Kafka attended courses in philosophy at the Charles University given by Brentano’s students Anton Marty and Christian von Ehrenfels, and was for several years a member of a discussion-group organized by orthodox adherents of the Brentanian philosophy in Prague. The present essay summari…Read more
  •  1320
    John Searle: From speech acts to social reality
    In John Searle, Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-33. 2003.
    We provide an overview of Searle's contributions to speech act theory and the ontology of social reality, focusing on his theory of constitutive rules. In early versions of this theory, Searle proposed that all such rules have the form 'X counts as Y in context C' formula – as for example when Barack Obama (X) counts as President of the United States (Y) in the context of US political affairs. Crucially, the X and the Y terms are here identical. A problem arises for this theory for cases involvi…Read more
  •  1300
    On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life
    with Berit Brogaard
    Philosophical Papers 34 (3): 443-458. 2005.
    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 sa…Read more