Applied ontology

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Applied ontology involves the practical application of ontological resources to specific domains, such as management, relationships, biomedicine or geography. Much work in applied ontology is carried out within the framework of the Semantic Web.

Applying ontology to relationships[edit]

The challenge of applying ontology is ontology's emphasis on a world view orthogonal to epistemology. The emphasis is on being rather than on doing (as implied by "applied") or on knowing. This is explored by philosophers and pragmatists like Fernando Flores and Martin Heidegger.

One way in which that emphasis plays out is in the concept of "speech acts": acts of promising, ordering, apologizing, requesting, inviting or sharing. The study of these acts from an ontological perspective is one of the driving forces behind relationship-oriented applied ontology.[1] This can involve concepts championed by ordinary language philosophers like Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Applying ontology can also involve looking at the relationship between a person's world and that person's actions. The context or clearing is highly influenced by the being of the subject or the field of being itself. This view is highly influenced by the philosophy of phenomenology,[2] the works of Heidegger, and others.[3] [4]

Ontological perspectives[edit]

Social scientists adopt a number of ontological approaches.[5] Some of these are:[6]

  1. Realism - the idea that facts are "out there" just waiting to be discovered;
  2. Empiricism - the idea that we can observe the world and evaluate those observations in relation to facts;
  3. Positivism - which focuses on the observations themselves, attentive more to claims about facts than to facts themselves;
  4. Grounded theory - which claims to derive theories from facts;
  5. Engaged theory - which moves across different levels of interpretation, linking different empirical questions to ontological understandings;[7]
  6. Postmodernism - which regards facts as fluid and elusive, and recommends focusing only on observational claims.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rubin, Harriet (1998-12-21). "The Power of Words". Fast Company. ISSN 1085-9241. Archived from the original on 2003-04-22. Retrieved 2010-03-24. Talk all you want to, Flores says, but if you want to act powerfully, you need to master 'speech acts': language rituals that build trust between colleagues and customers, word practices that open your eyes to new possibilities. Speech acts are powerful because most of the actions that people engage in -- in business, in marriage, in parenting -- are carried out through conversation.
  2. ^ "Phenomenology". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. 2013-12-16.
  3. ^ McCarl, Steven R.; Zaffron, Steve; Nielsen, Joyce McCarl and Kennedy, Sally Lewis, "The Promise of Philosophy and the Landmark Forum". Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. XXIII, No. 1 & 2, Jan/Feb & Mar/Apr 2001 doi:10.2139/ssrn.278955
  4. ^ Hyde, Bruce (February 14, 1995). "An Ontological Approach to Education" (PDF). Retrieved 18 October 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Raddon, Arwen. "Epistemology & Ontology in Social Science Research" (PDF). University of Leicester. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Research Methodology: Ontology". Research Methodologies. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  7. ^ James, Paul (2006). Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism: Bringing Theory Back In —Volume 2 of Towards a Theory of Abstract Community. London: Sage Publications.

External links[edit]

  • Graham, S. Scott (2015). The Politics of Pain Medicine: A Rhetorical-Ontological Inquiry. Chicago Scholarship Online. ISBN 9780226264059.