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Mapping SKOS into BFO

From: Jim McCusker <james.mccusker@yale.edu>
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2011 23:02:40 -0400
Message-ID: <BANLkTinsFr6L2n8HaoxfcD1xZ2430y08dQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-esw-thes@w3.org
The Basic Formal Ontology is commonly used in biomedical semantics
through OBO. I would like to propose a mapping of skos:Concept into
BFO as a subclass of "generically dependent continuent". I believe
this will help further the ongoing discussion surrounding definitions
for the term "concept", and will also provide an ontological home for
it in relation to non-conceptual ontologies. I chose "generically
dependent continuent" for the following reasons:

The definition of "generically dependent continuent" is: "Definition:
A continuant [snap:Continuant] that is dependent on one or other
independent continuant [snap:IndependentContinuant] bearers. For every
instance of A requires some instance of (an independent continuant
[snap:IndependentContinuant] type) B but which instance of B serves
can change from time to time."

This refers to entities that exist in relation to something, but it
doesn't matter what, exactly, that something is. Ideas (and therefore
concepts) have this property - an idea can exist in my head, I can
write it down, someone else can read it, and in that process the idea
is dependent on my brain, the media I write it down on, and then brain
of the person who reads it.

A concept is not an occurrent (definition: "An entity [bfo:Entity]
that has temporal parts and that happens, unfolds or develops through
time. Sometimes also called perdurants."). While a concept can have a
lifetime in which it is imagined, changed, and forgotten, in BFO this
is considered distinct from the entity itself.

A concept is not an independent continuent (definition: A continuant
[snap:Continuant] that is a bearer of quality [snap:Quality] and
realizable entity [snap:RealizableEntity] entities, in which other
entities inhere and which itself cannot inhere in anything.") These
are things that exist in and of themselves, without any need for a

A concept is not a specifically dependent continuent (definition: "A
continuant [snap:Continuant] that inheres in or is borne by other
entities. Every instance of A requires some specific instance of B
which must always be the same.") Concepts do not need some specific
instance for it to be borne by, but can exist all the same in any
suitable substrate.

That leaves generically dependent continuent. A concept needs to have
some substrate to exist, but it doesn't have to be any one particular

Additionally, in the Information Artifact Ontology, "information
content entity" is a subclass of generically dependent continuent. An
information content entity is "an entity that is generically dependent
on some artifact and stands in relation of aboutness to some entity".
Some concepts are about particular things (universal classes and
properties, for instance), which would make them information content
entities, and therefore generically dependent continuents.

Jim McCusker
Programmer Analyst
Krauthammer Lab, Pathology Informatics
Yale School of Medicine
james.mccusker@yale.edu | (203) 785-6330

PhD Student
Tetherless World Constellation
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Received on Thursday, 7 April 2011 03:03:28 UTC

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