By Katherine Munn, Barry Smith

Ontology is the philosophical self-discipline that goals to appreciate how issues on the planet are divided into different types and the way those different types are comparable. this is often precisely what details scientists goal for in developing established, automatic representations, known as ontologies, for coping with details in fields such as technology, executive, undefined, and healthcare. at the moment, those structures are designed in a number of other ways, so they can not proportion info with each other. This quantity exhibits, in a non-technical approach and utilizing examples from drugs and biology, how the rigorous software of theories and insights from philosophical ontology can enhance the ontologies upon which info administration relies.

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One instrument for improving communication is the OBO Foundry’s Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) Ontology, developed through the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington in Seattle, which is a standard-setter among bioinformation systems. The FMA represents the structural composition of the human body from the macromolecular level to the macroscopic level, and provides a robust and consistent schema for the classification of anatomical unities based upon explicit definitions.

3. Matter and Form According to Aristotle General is the opposite of regional, and formal is the opposite of material. Formal ontology, rather than being non-regional, is non-material. It may study a specific kind of thing, but that does not mean that it studies particular and concrete instances of these kinds. What does this mean? In order to distinguish formal from material ontology, we will now consider the distinction between matter and form. There are at least two different traditional conceptions of the difference between matter and form, which are attributable to Aristotle and Immanuel Kant respectively.

A biological kind, however, is by no means the same as the set of its instances. For, while the identity of a set is dependent upon its elements or members and, hence, participates to some degree in the world of time and change, sets themselves exist outside of time. By contrast, biological kinds exist in time, and they continue to exist even when the entirety of their instances changes. Thus, biological kinds have certain attributes in common with individuals (Hull, 1976, 174-191; Ghiselin, 1997), and this is an aspect of their ontology which has been given too little attention in bioinformatics.

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