•  4153
    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
  •  3298
    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
  •  1525
    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.
  •  1416
    Visceral Values: Aurel Kolnai on Disgust
    with Carolyn Korsmeyer
    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
  •  1415
    The Construction of Social Reality: An Exchange
    with John Searle
    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 banks computers, however, the formula fails, because these are cases of what he calls ‘free-st…Read more
  •  1269
    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
  •  1225
    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
  •  1158
    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
  •  1155
    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
  •  1127
    ‘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
  •  1075
    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
  •  938
    Husserl’s Logical Investigations
    with Kevin Mulligan
    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
  •  934
    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
  •  876
    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 fit…Read more
  •  801
    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 same…Read more
  •  797
    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
  •  772
    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
  •  729
    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
  •  708
    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
  •  692
    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
  •  688
    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
  •  645
    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
  •  641
    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
  •  624
    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.
  •  624
    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.
  •  620
    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
  •  607
    HL7 RIM: An incoherent standard
    with Werner Ceusters
    Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 124 (Proceedings of MIE 2006). 2006.
    The Health Level 7 Reference Information Model (HL7 RIM) is lauded by its authors as ‘the foundation of healthcare interoperability’. Yet even after some 10 years of development work, the RIM is still subject to a variety of logical and ontological flaws which have placed severe obstacles in the way of those who are called upon to develop implementations. We offer evidence that these obstacles are insurmountable and that the time has come to abandon an unworkable paradigm.
  •  604
    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
  •  603
    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
  •  599
    The Chinese rune argument
    Philosophical Explorations 4 (2): 66-74. 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