This chapter illustrates ontological systems, hereafter referred to as ontologies, which satisfy the two main requirements of being formal and foundational. Ontology is formal if it is expressed in a logic language endowed with clear semantics (for instance, in model-theoretic terms as first-order predicate logic). This choice is not determined by application concerns (at least, not primarily), it emphasizes the relevance that semantic transparency has in this domain. By foundational ontologies one means those knowledge systems that focus on very general and basic concepts (like object, event, state, quality) and relations (such as constitution, participation, dependence, parthood). Often, the term formal ontology is used to cover both the requirements, thus reminding us of Husserl's distinction between formal logic and formal ontology. In this specific meaning, formal ontology is the study of the interconnections between entities, properties, parts, wholes and collectives. These are considered to be "formal" because they can be exemplified by objects in all domains of reality. To take another perspective, one can say that formal ontology is the study of formal (logical) systems which are: general, since they include the most usable and widely applicable concepts; reliable, as they are logical theories with clear semantics, a rich axiomatization and carefully analyzed formal consequences (theorems); and well organized, because they are based on philosophical principles the choice of which is explicitly motivated and remains independent from particular domains. © 2009 Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Artefacts in Formal Ontology
Contributo in volume
Elsevier BV, Amsterdam, NLD
Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences, edited by Dov M. Gabbay, Paul Thagard, John Woods, Anthonie W.M. Meijers, pp. 273–307. Amsterdam: Elsevier BV, 2009