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Re: Evidence

From: <samwald@gmx.at>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 14:28:54 +0200
Cc: public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org
Message-ID: <20070619122854.73260@gmx.net>
To: public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org

> if  
> Matthias meant Role, the subclass of realizable entity, and if he  
> meant that the Role was borne by a process then he should get an  
> inconsistency 

Yes, that was a bad example I gave. I know that only continuants can have roles in BFO but tend to forget that because in my general understanding  processes can be ascribed roles, too. However, I find the restriction of BFO understandable, and it would probably be possible to associate the role with the participants of the experiment and not the experiment itself. I have no problem with that.
> Now on reflection, evidence, even as a continuant, doesn't generally  
> fit this pattern. Only in some cases involving surveillance of some  
> sort is the object in question (say the recording of camera at an  
> ATM) intended, before the fact, to be used as evidence. 

What about a scientific report? The output of a mass spectrometer? A microscopic image? A pregnancy test? The majority of artifacts produced by applying the scientific method are indeed meant to provide evidence for something, and mostly not made for the pure enjoyment of the scientists. Their role of evidence is realized as a process when an autonomous agent (e.g. a scientist) observes them and acts accordingly (e.g. starts a follow-up experiment).

Besides that, it is debatable whether the 'intention' of someone that has created an entity is in any way interesting to determine whether something has a certain role or not. Is there any evidence (no pun...) for this assertion in the documentation of BFO? For example, if I observe a car accident and become a witness ('witness' is a role), nobody intended to make me a witness before all this happened. Nonetheless I can realize my role by giving testimony in court.

> In many other  
> cases it is after the fact that something observed that can be used  
> as evidence. Or perhaps trivially, all things have the Role of  
> evidence, in that they potentially could be used to prove something.

Well, yes, if you make your standards to ascribe a certain realizable entitiy to a continuant low enough, every continuant can have an infinite amount of relatively useless roles and dispositions. You can use your argument against most uses of roles in BFO.
Examples for roles in BFO: "the role of a person as a surgeon, the role of a chemical compound in an experiment, the role of a drug in the treatment of a disease, the role of a patient relative as defined by a hospital administrative form, the role of a woman as a legal mother in the context of system of laws, the role of a tree in maintaining stability in an ecosystem, the role of ingested matter in digestion".

Matthias Samwald


Yale Center for Medical Informatics, New Haven /
Section on Medical Expert and Knowledge-Based Systems, Vienna /

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Received on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 12:29:09 UTC

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