Philosophy on Rails
Philosophy on Rails
Special Topic PHI 579
Registration: Class#: xxxxx
Prerequisites: Open to all persons with an undergraduate degree and some knowledge of philosophy.
- 1 The Course
- 2 August 31: Introduction: Philosophy on Rails
- 3 September 7: Labor Day (no class)
- 4 September 14: The Ontology of Philosophy
- 5 September 21: An Introduction to Basic Formal Ontology
- 6 September 28: Methods
- 7 October 5: Philosophy of Science
- 8 October 12: Philosophical Logic
- 9 October 19: Cognitive Science
- 10 October 26: Metaphysics
- 11 November 2: Philosophy of Language
- 12 November 9: Norms and Values
- 13 November 16: Capabilities
- 14 November 23: Philosophy of Information
- 15 November 30: Social Ontology
- 16 December 7: Student Projects
- 17 Reading
- 18 Student Learning Outcomes
- 19 How to Write an Essay
- 20 Important Dates
- 21 Grading
- 22 Related Policies and Services
- 23 Background Reading and Video Materials
Course Description: Philosophy has been crippled by the degree to which different philosophers fail to define their terms in a common framework of definitions that would enable comparison of different theories and arguments. This class will explore a new strategy for resolving this problem resting on the use of a common, standard ontology (BFO, ISO/IEC 21838-2) as a framework for definitions.
Course Structure: This is a three credit hour graduate seminar, with a practical exercise forming part of each class. The final session will be structured around youtube videos created by the students in the class. Students will be trained in the basic tools and methods of ontology, and become involved in the attempt to use BFO to capture data about philosophical methods, hypotheses and results.
Target Audience: The course is open to all interested students with an undergraduate degree and some knowledge of philosophy.
August 31: Introduction: Philosophy on Rails
This course is about constraining philosophy in the spirit of (for example) Wittgenstein's Tractatus, the Vienna Circle's project of a unified science, of Carnap's Aufbau, and Roman Ingarden's The Problem of the Existence of the World. It will be divided into three tracks, as follows:
1) The philosophical methodology that produced Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), which was approved as International Standards Organization standard ISO/IED 21838-2 in 2019. This methodology includes principles such as: the referent of every term should be traceable back to some portion of reality that is perceivable or physically identifiable.
2) Collecting examples of doing philosophy constrained by BFO. For example, what do we do with information, given that there is no coverage of propositions in BFO? What do we do with modality given that BFO has no coverage of merely possible worlds?
3) Exploring the idea of using BFO and ontologies conformant to BFO in tagging philosophical literature. How would one build out an ontology used to tag philosophical literature, since that literature is full of non-referring terms?
September 7: Labor Day (no class)
September 14: The Ontology of Philosophy
- Pierre Grenon and Barry Smith, “Foundations of an Ontology of Philosophy”, Synthese, 2011, 182 (2), 185-204.
- Abstract: We describe an ontology of philosophy that is designed to help navigation through philosophical literature, including literature in the form of encyclopedia articles and textbooks and in both printed and digital forms. The ontology is designed also to serve integration and structuring of data pertaining to the philosophical literature, and in the long term also to support reasoning about the provenance and contents of such literature, by providing a representation of the philosophical domain that is orientated around what philosophical literature is about.
- The Philosophome
- List of philpapers.org Categories
- Dimitris Gakis (2016) "Philosophy as Paradigms: An Account of a Contextual Metaphilosophical Perspective", Philosophical Papers, 45:1-2, 209-239.
September 21: An Introduction to Basic Formal Ontology
- Robert Arp, Barry Smith and Andrew Spear, Building Ontologies with Basic Formal Ontology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, August 2015.
September 28: Methods
- All editions of TopBraid (including the free edition) allow editors to establish links using the GUI to dbpedia resources, and to download resources and their annotations from dbpedia as part of their local knowledge base. Despite DBpedia being a hot mess, there is a lot of interesting content therein. It would be very easy to build an exercise around this for students, who could use it for exploratory purposes, enrichment, testing, pointing out errors, etc…
October 5: Philosophy of Science
- Models and simulations
- A. Bandrowski, et al., "The Ontology for Biomedical Investigations", PLoS ONE, 2016
October 12: Philosophical Logic
- Werner Ceusters and Barry Smith, "Aboutness: Towards Foundations for the Information Artifact Ontology", Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO). CEUR vol. 1515. pp. 1-5 (2015).
October 19: Cognitive Science
- Mental Functioning Ontology
- Emotion Ontology
- Cognitive Process Ontology
October 26: Metaphysics
- Barry Smith and Werner Ceusters, "Ontological realism: A methodology for coordinated evolution of scientific ontologies", Applied Ontology, 2010 Nov 15; 5(3-4): 139–188.
November 2: Philosophy of Language
From Speech Acts to Document Acts
November 9: Norms and Values
Deontic Entities in Basic Formal Ontology
November 16: Capabilities
November 23: Philosophy of Information
- The Information Ontology
November 30: Social Ontology
December 7: Student Projects
Student Learning Outcomes
|Program Outcomes/Competencies||Instructional Method(s)||Assessment Method(s)|
|The student will acquire a knowledge of the principles and procedures of intelligence analysis, and an insight into the philosophical methods and theories relevant thereto. The student will also acquire a familiarity with current theoretical research in areas relating to intelligence analysis.||Lectures and class discussions||Review of reading matter and associated online content and participation in class discussions|
|The student will acquire experience in practical tasks involved in intelligence analysis||Participation in practical experiments||Review of results|
|The student will acquire experience in communicating the results of work on intelligence analysis and its philosophical understanding||Creation of youtube presentation and of associated documentation||Review of results|
How to Write an Essay
|Sep 20||- about now start to discuss by email the content of your video and essay with Drs Smith and Limbaugh|
|Sep 28||- submit a proposed title and abstract|
|Oct 31||- submit a table of contents and 300 word summary plus draft of associated ppt slides|
|Nov 20||- submit penultimate draft of essay and powerpoint|
|Dec2||- class presentation|
|Dec 4||- submit final version of essay and powerpoint and upload final version of video to youtube|
Grading will be based on two factors:
I: understanding and criticism of the material presented in classes 1-13
All students are required to take an active part in class (and where relevant on-line) discussions throughout the semester.
II: preparation of a youtube video and associated documentation (including powerpoint slides and essay).
Content and structure of the essay should be discussed with Drs Smith or Limbaugh. Where the essay takes the form of the documentation of a specific ontology developed by the student it should include:
- Statement of scope of the ontology
- Summary of existing ontologies in the relevant domain
- Explanation of how your ontology differs from (or incorporates) these ontologies
- Screenshots of parts of the ontology with some examples of important terms and definitions
- Summaries of potential applications of the ontology
Grading Policy: Grading follows standard Graduate School policies. Grades will be weighted according to the following breakdown:
- 40% - class discussions
- 20% - youtube video presentation
- 20% - powerpoint slides
- 20% - essay / ontology content
Percentages refer to sum of assignment grades as listed above
Grade Quality Percentage
|A-||3.67||87.0% - 89.9%|
|B+||3.33||84.0% - 86.9%|
|B||3.00||80.0% - 83.9%|
|B-||2.67||77.0% - 79.9%|
|C+||2.33||74.0% - 76.9%|
|C||2.00||71.0% - 73.9%|
|C-||1.67||68.0% - 70.9%|
|D+||1.33||65.0% - 67.9%|
|D||1.00||62.0% - 64.9%|
|F||0||61.9% or below|
An interim grade of Incomplete (I) may be assigned if the student has not completed all requirements for the course. An interim grade of 'I' shall not be assigned to a student who did not attend the course. The default grade accompanying an interim grade of 'I' shall be 'U' and will be displayed on the UB record as 'IU.' The default Unsatisfactory (U) grade shall become the permanent course grade of record if the 'IU' is not changed through formal notice by the instructor upon the student's completion of the course.
Assignment of an interim 'IU' is at the discretion of the instructor. A grade of 'IU' can be assigned only if successful completion of unfulfilled course requirements can result in a final grade better than the default 'U' grade. The student should have a passing average in the requirements already completed. The instructor shall provide the student specification, in writing, of the requirements to be fulfilled.
The university’s Graduate Incomplete Policy can be found here.
Related Policies and Services
Academic integrity is a fundamental university value. Through the honest completion of academic work, students sustain the integrity of the university while facilitating the university's imperative for the transmission of knowledge and culture based upon the generation of new and innovative ideas. See http://grad.buffalo.edu/Academics/Policies-Procedures/Academic-Integrity.html.
Accessibility resources: If you have any disability which requires reasonable accommodations to enable you to participate in this course, please contact the Office of Accessibility Resources in 60 Capen Hall, 645-2608 and also the instructor of this course during the first week of class. The office will provide you with information and review appropriate arrangements for reasonable accommodations, which can be found on the web here.