Ontological dependency

R.K. Stamper

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Successful ontological analysis depends upon having the right underlying theory. The work described here, exploring how to understand organisations as systems of social norms found that the familiar objectivist position did not work, eventually replacing it with a radically subjectivist ontology which treats every thing, relationship and attribute as a repertoire of behaviour as uderstood by some responsible agent. Gibson’s Theory of Affordances supports this view in relation to our physical reality and the concept of norms extends the theory naturally into the social domain. A formalism, Norma, which captures the need always to specify the responsible agent and some more or less complex repertoire of behaviour, introduces the concept of ontological dependency where one repertoire depends for its existence on another. This unusual logical relationship allows one to devise schemas which can generate systems as by-products; the paper ends with an example dealing with health insurance. To emphasise the validity of the underlying philosophical position, the paper is written in E-Prime (Borland 1974), English without the verb "to be" which forces one to abandon the objectivist way of thinking in favour of one that accounts for the world in terms of the actions of agents.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 1996
EventECAI 1996 Workshop on Ontological Engineering - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 11 Aug 199616 Aug 1996


ConferenceECAI 1996 Workshop on Ontological Engineering


  • METIS-125648
  • IR-102245


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