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Re: [WN] Endurant Objects?

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 14:29:30 -0600
Message-Id: <p0623090ebf8ecd419b11@[]>
To: Alan Rector <rector@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: "John McClure" <jmcclure@hypergrove.com>, Aldo Gangemi <aldo.gangemi@istc.cnr.it>, <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>

>Aldo, John
>I am coming in late on this, but I am a bit surprised.

Me too. I would strongly suggest that these distinctions are more 
harmful than useful, except possibly in artificial settings which 
allow them to be defined clearly, and then those locally appropriate 
definitions should be used and stated clearly, and preferably the 
distinctions made using a vocabulary special to that domain, so as 
not to confuse it with related but not identical distinctions made in 
other domains.

These distinctions are certainly not philosophically necessary or in 
any sense required for clear expression of domain facts; and all such 
distinctions are in fact contested by various schools of thought in 
philosophical ontology. In a word, never take such basic distinctions 
on trust as having been fixed by an external authority.

>I thought Perdurant/Occurrent and Endurant/Continuant were of 
>sortals rather than qualities

There is no fact of the matter. They are used in both ways, and some 
authors treat them differently from others.

>, where the problems are clearly different.
>This seems an easy distinction to make.  In my biomedical world very 
>few qaualities of anything are truly 'endurant' - i.e. unchangeable.

Quite. Part of what makes these categories so suspicious and 
potentially harmful is that they are stated as very general, 
'upper-level' distinctions, but different domains and worlds of 
application will draw the boundaries between the categories 
differently, or categorize the same thing in conflicting ways, or 
refuse to recognize some categories at all. (Also, different 
philosopher's definitions of these terms will often give conflicting 
results when applied to cases which the philosopher did not think 
of.)  This creates barriers to interoperabilty which are entirely 
artificial, and simply go away when these upper-level taxonomies are 
rejected, which I would strongly recommend they should be. This 
particular occurrent/continuant distinction is almost uniquely 
poisonous, has generated libraries full of controversy, and as far as 
I can detect has not been the slightest practical use in support of 
any actual inferences. (Like all binary taxonomic classifications, it 
can be used to help detect gross conceptual errors in large 
multi-authored knowledge bases; and it can be related to NL 
distinctions between noun and verb, but only superficially.) Its 
intellectual roots are in late 19th-century phenomenology: it should 
be called the Brentano Mistake.

>Likewise, I've always thought that the event/process distinction was 
>one of granularity/perspective.

I agree; and it also can be changed on other grounds also.

>  If our temporal mesh is fine enough all events above the subatomic

and even there, for some purposes.

Pat Hayes

>can be redefined as a series of processes.  That's certainly the 
>view of standard texts on the topic such as Davies.
>On 1 Nov 2005, at 22:49, Aldo Gangemi wrote:
>>Hi John,
>>At 12:11 -0800 31-10-2005, John McClure wrote:
>>>Hi Aldo,
>>>>Concerning endurant and perdurant, they are usually (e.g in DOLCE,
>>>>http://dolce-semanticweb.org) assumed with the approximate meaning of
>>>>"object" (endurant) and "process" or "event" (perdurant).
>>>Hmm, my understanding is that endurant and perdurant are 
>>>descriptors applicable
>>>to qualities and quantities, that is, to *attributes of* 
>>>resources. A resource
>>>has endurant and/or perdurant attributes. For example, a person's 
>>>height is a
>>>perdurant quantity; a person's eye color is an endurant quality.
>>Strictly speaking, these examples depend on context:  height 
>>changes significantly for only part of a person lifecycle, while 
>>even eye color can change in later phases, let alone in newborns. 
>>But this is just for general talking.
>>>Apart from that, events-as-process track to my view also of 
>>>perdurants. However,
>>>there is a huge difference between perdurant events and endurant 
>>>events. (Note:
>>>I consider an event to be an attribute of the thing to which it 
>>>occurs, as it
>>>relates to the 'state' of the resource.)
>>This use of state and event is a bit peculiar. In system theory 
>>(but also in engineering, Petri Nets, etc.), it's often assumed 
>>that a process is constituted of states whose boundaries are events 
>>that occur (transitions).
>>In so-called 4-dimensionalist ontologies, events are attributes in 
>>the sense they are temporal parts of an entity.
>>BTW, I still miss what it means for events to "endure" or to 
>>"perdure" ... (after looking at your site) ... ok, I think you 
>>catch a know difference related to "aspects" in event structure, by 
>>which we can consider an event as a whole (your "endurant event"), 
>>or as a composition of parts (your "perdurant event"). But aspects 
>>are not inherent in the processes you're trying to describe, they 
>>come from the perspective of the user. E.g., if I went to an 
>>auction and got a lamp, I can see the auction as a single, 
>>non-analyzed whole that provided me a lamp, or as a long series of 
>>events that allowed me to buy a lamp. Therefore, if I'm just 
>>interested in the fact that I've got a lamp, that distinction is 
>>totally irrelevant, while if I'm interested in legal consequences, 
>>I should assume the second perspective.
>>>A marriage ceremony is a process; a
>>>recital of a marriage vow is a one-shot action consisting of no process
>>>whatsoever. Maybe what needs to be done is to further define what 
>>>a 'process'
>>>is, from the DOLCE view?
>>You seem to assume that an action is atomic, while processes have 
>>parts. So far so good. I'm only trying to catch the intended 
>>meaning of your distinctions.
>>>My own view is that a process is a series of actions
>>>and subprocesses. An action (which normally occurs in the context 
>>>of a process)
>>>has no 'sub-action' and of course no subprocess component.
>>Consequently to what you said, indeed.
>>>So, I am concerned about the presumption of a parallel between 
>>>'endurant' and
>>>'object' -- I think it's somewhat misleading if not wrong.
>>Why concerned? I was trying to compare your use of terms to another one.
>>There is nothing "wrong" in using terms in a controlled way, if 
>>appropriate axioms or explanations prevent misunderstanding. For 
>>example, DOLCE has hundreds of axioms and a lot of documentation 
>>that attempt at clarifying the intended meaning of terms in its 
>>logical vocabulary.
>>Of course, if you try to convince anyone to use "cat" in order to 
>>mean "dog", you may have hard time in talking to people, but this 
>>is another story.
>>>As for the larger
>>>picture, sure, I agree that hooking a controlled, commercialized 
>>>subset of WN
>>>back to a transformed WN-ontology can be a good idea, although I'm not sure
>>>about doing so until the subset is stable.
>>>BTW, for a view of (the heart of) the Legal XHTML model -- where events are
>>>prime (by your actions are ye known!) -- please see
>>>http://www.hypergrove.com/OWL/ and navigate to 1) Resource Model 
>>>and 2) Event
>>Interesting. Specially your design pattern for states and 
>>qualities. Your use of rdf typing to relate conceptual and natural 
>>language syntactic information is creative, while I don't see the 
>>point in using metaclasses for end/perd events.
>>For other approaches and patterns to represent legal reality see 
>>also the recent "Law and the Semantic Web", R. Benjamins et al., 
>>Other comments when loading the owl file into some editor (the 
>>Event file is still loading on Protege after 30 minutes).
>>>  Our model allows "persons, places, and things" defined by other ontologies
>>>to be 'pluggable' into the LegalXHTML ontology. For instance, a "Person" in
>>>another model could subclass LegalXHTML's "ContactableThing" in 
>>>order to pick up
>>>Contact-related attributes.
>>As it is the case for any ontology with some generality ;)
>>>LegalXHTML aims to package its attributes, as much
>>>as possible, as perdurant and endurant events. The model published 
>>>(today) is a
>>>first big step towards that goal.
>>More after loading
>>Aldo Gangemi
>>Research Scientist
>>Laboratory for Applied Ontology
>>Institute for Cognitive Sciences and Technology
>>National Research Council (ISTC-CNR)
>>Via Nomentana 56, 00161, Roma, Italy
>>Tel: +390644161535
>>Fax: +390644161513
>Alan Rector
>Professor of Medical Informatics
>Department of Computer Science
>University of Manchester
>Manchester M13 9PL, UK
>TEL +44 (0) 161 275 6188/6149
>FAX +44 (0) 161 275 6204

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Received on Wednesday, 2 November 2005 20:30:14 UTC

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