Entities and their genera: Slicing up the world the medieval way--and does it matter to formal ontology?

Journal of Knowledge Structures and Systems 3 (2):4-47 (2022)
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Abstract

Genera, typically hand-in-hand with their branching species, are essential elements of vocabulary-based information constructs, in particular scientific taxonomies. Should they also feature in formal ontologies, the highest of such constructs? I argue in this article that the answer is “Yes” and that the question posed in its title also has a Yes-answer: The way medieval ontologists sliced up the world into genera does matter to formal ontology. More specifically, the way Dietrich of Freiberg, a Latin scholastic, conceived and applied strictly generic criteria to slice up the world into its entities can provide some guidelines to the field of formal ontology with respect to not only its contents, but also its scope. In particular, Dietrich's information criterion plays here a central role.

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Luis M. Augusto
Independent Scientist

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