Workshop on BFO and the Ontology of Social Entities 2016

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Venue: Hilton University of Florida Conference Center

Dates: February 17-19, 2016

Organizers: Barry Smith and William Hogan


The goal of the workshop is to develop the account of social entities in Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) to the point where BFO users have adequate guidance to develop and apply in software applications the ontology of organizations, document acts, roles, claims, obligations, consent and other social entities, in a reliable and consistent manner that enables semantic interoperability.

Several BFO-based ontologies have emerged that are grappling with such social entities in various ways, often taking different approaches. Examples include the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI), the Ontology of Medically-relevant Social Entities (OMRSE), the document acts (d-acts) ontology, and the Ontology for General Medical Science (OGMS). Work has also been done on ontological representations of informed consent. The process of creating BFO, however, in order to make progress on capturing key entities studied by more basic sciences, has not yet developed fully an account of social entities beyond information content entities. The purpose of this workshop is to make substantial progress in developing such an account.


Rooms are being held at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center Gainesville for participants at the rate of $149/night for reservation through January 19th.

Please visit this link and use the code "CTS216" for the discounted room rate.


Wednesday February 17

1p - Developing a framework of ontologies for social entities. Interactive session led by Barry Smith

Draft Proposal:

Starting out from physical behavior of humans and other animals we will build a series of ontologies relating to the sorts of entities which arise when humans act intentionally (act as cognitive agents). We can distinguish the following four Levels in this series, as follows:

Act Ontology (Level 1) 
   Social Act Ontology (2) 
      Speech Act Ontology (3)
         Document Act Ontology (4)

Walking, foraging, sitting ... would arise at level 1

Punishment, violence, leadership ... would arise at level 2

Obligations, responsibilities, permissions, rights, consents, commands, legal authority ... would arise at level 3

Transferrable obligations, debts, titles, copyrights, patents, contracts, protocols, diplomas ... would arise at level 4 (the level where generically dependent continuants first come into play)

Topics to be dealt with include: cultural transmission, promising and core obligations, language and speech acts, document acts, norms (if we have time also: access, treatment, employment, law, science, politics, ...)


6p Dinner

Thursday February 18


  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast (provided)
  • 9:00 - 10:00 Mathias Brochhausen - Document Act Ontology and Informed Consent Slides
  • 10:00 - 10:30 William Hogan - Introduction to the Ontology of Medically Related Social Entities Slides
  • 10:30 - 10:45 Break
  • 10:45 - 11:15 Amanda Hicks - The ontology of insurance, enrollment, and other social entities in common data models Slides

12p-1p Lunch (provided)

1p - end

  • 1:00 - 1:45 Ludger Jansen - What's in a consent form? Rights as realizable entities Slides
  • 1:45 - 2:15 Selja Seppala - Systematizing definitions of social entities Slides
  • 2:15 - 2:45 Desiree Daniel - Unpacking Social Entities from a Development Geography Perspective
  • 2:45 - 3:00 Discussion of potential proposal for ICBO Workshop on social ontology
  • 3:00 - 3:30 Break
  • 3:30 - 3:45 Peter Koch - The Ontology of Patient Welfare Slides
  • 3:45 - Discussion

7p - dinner at Dragonfly Sushi and Sake Co (there are also excellent non-sushi options at this restaurant)

Friday February 19


  • 8:30 - 9:00 Breakfast (provided)
  • 9:00 - 10:30 VIVO and social ontology according to BFO
    • Mike Conlon - Update on VIVO, the VIVO Ontology, and current ontological needs of VIVO Slides
  • 10:30 - 10:45 Break
  • 10:45 - 12:00 Action items and next steps
  • 12:00 - Lunch (provided) and continue action items and next steps



  • Maurizio Almeida (Minas Geras)
  • Robert d'Amico (Gainesville)
  • Chris Barnes (Gainesville)
  • Mathias Brochhausen (Arkansas)
  • Michael Conlon (Gainesville)
  • Desiree Daniel (Bonn)
  • Randall Dipert (Buffalo)
  • Josh Hanna (Gainesville)
  • Amanda Hicks (Gainesville)
  • William Hogan (Gainesville)
  • Ludger Jansen (Rostock)
  • Peter Koch (Buffalo)
  • Øystein Nytrø (Trondheim)
  • Selja Seppälä (Buffalo)
  • ​Laura Slaughter (Oslo)
  • Barry Smith (Buffalo)
  • Sonya White (Gainesville)