GFO Part I Basic Principles
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1.2 General Organization of ISFO

There is currently a debate regarding the organization of a foundational ontology. Some argue that it should be a single, consistent structure, while others argue that a foundational ontology should be a partial ordering of theories, some of which may be insconsistent with theories not situated on the same partial ordering path (42).

Foundational ontologies may differ with respect to their basic categories and relations (i.e., their vocabulary), with respect to the set of axioms formulated about their vocabulary or with respect to both the basic vocabulary and the axioms. If two ontologies have the same basic categories and relations, then the question arises which axioms should be included in the axiomatization.

We adopt a restricted version of the partial ordering approach. We want to use only few categorial systems (vocabularies), but we allow for a multitude of different axiomatizations. The investigation of a system of axioms with respect to its possible consistent extensions and of other meta-logical properties is an interesting research topic of its own. It is our opinion that different views of the world can be sustained, though over time we expect that the number will be reduced to a few such views, mainly based on utility.

According to our pluralistic approach ISFO exhibits an integrated and evolutionary system of foundational ontologies. These ontologies are compared and interrelated using methods of translation and interpretation. Furthermore, there should be sufficient flexibility to allow enough room for modifications and changes, by including new ontologies, and cancelling old (or parts of old) ontologies. ISFO is intended to be organized into three levels such that any of its foundational ontologies has an abstract top level (ATO), an abstract core level (ACO), and a basic level (BLO). We assume that every ACO contains the basic items of categories and individuals, and the relations identity and instantiation. Concerning the abstract top level, we see mainly two ontologies associated with it: set theory and mathematical category theory.

Robert Hoehndorf 2006-10-18


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