W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org > June 2007

Re: Evidence

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 11:37:22 -0500
Message-Id: <p06230905c29f06277a81@[]>
To: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>
Cc: <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>, "Kashyap, Vipul" <VKASHYAP1@PARTNERS.ORG>

>On Jun 20, 2007, at 10:08 AM, Kashyap, Vipul wrote:
>>VK> I think Pat raises a very valid point. I do 
>>sense that folks are treating BFO as łtrue˛ and 
>>sometimes probably trying to shoe-horn their 
>>requirements into it. The scientific method 
>>requires that the various constructs and 
>>distinctions of BFO (and for that matter others 
>>such as DOLCE, OpenCyc, etc.) be evaluated from 
>>the use perspective and see if they bring any 
>>value in the context of a real application 
>>probably healthcare and life sciences.
>Usually I think of the scientific method as 
>trying to determine truth, not utility, though 
>as you know I'm a big one for utility. Note that 
>my general support for BFO has been based on its 
>utility in collaboratively building ontologies 
>for combining knowledge, particularly OBI and in 
>the HCLS demo. I'm quite interested in anyone 
>else's work that might be used to be able to 
>evaluate alternatives, but I plan to invest my 
>limited time in continuing to use and improve 
>BFO until it breaks in a way that can't be fixed.

Fair enough. I wouldn't want to suggest that this 
'breaking' is likely to happen when using BFO. I 
do believe that a simpler framework would provide 
as much utility; but at this stage this 
observation may be a bit like moaning about the 
size of Windows compared with OS X.

>>BTW, I do not intend to evaluate whether these 
>>constructs are ontologically sound, etc. but 
>>the question we need to answer as a group is: 
>>Are these constructs useful?
>I don't know what "ontologically sound" means. I 
>would offer that a "best practice" would be be 
>to make sure that part of our "acceptance tests" 
>for agreeing that something is useful is that 
>many of us understand what is meant by a 

Fair enough, though I would suggest strengthening 
it and making it more empirical: that many of 
y'all understand *and all agree* what is meant by 
a construct. So that a recurrent need to have 
discussions about whether or not a construct 
applies to a new case, may be a sign that it is 
not as well mutually understood as one initially 

Another acceptance test I would urge on y'all is 
to ask, of each construct, what utility it might 
be. For example, of a proposed distinction, is 
making this distinction useful (for what?), or 
does it simply make a distinction, which could be 



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Received on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 16:37:35 UTC

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