FOUST VIII - 8th Edition of the Foundational Ontology Workshop

July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
University of Twente


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Foundational Ontologies are attempts to systematise very high-level categories of thought or reality. In practical terms, they aim to understand and formalise the meaning of very general terms, such as object, event, property, time, quality, relation, and process. Once formalised, these terms provide the top-level categories that are in principle common to many (if not all) domains of application. Consequently, Foundational Ontologies are widely acknowledged as crucial tools for tackling system and software interoperability issues. Despite this recognition, there is less consensus on the specific entities a foundational ontology should cover, its organisational structure, its scope, and even its role in relation to more specialised domain ontologies. This lack of consensus often reflects deep-rooted debates stemming from different philosophical perspectives on reality, mind, and language.

Traditionally FOUST concentrates on a series of topics in foundational ontology. This encompasses discussing philosophical foundations, presenting new research on specific foundational ontologies, discussing existing foundational ontologies, comparing them, and examining their relevance to the broader ontological enterprise. In some editions, FOUST adds a special topic to attract attention to some research questions. Along with this tradition, this year's focus revolves around the role of constructional approaches in applied ontology.

The concept of constructional ontology, introduced by Kit Fine in his influential paper “The Study of Ontology” (1991), involves assuming a set of ontological givens or basic elements and a set of constructors that can be iteratively applied to generate new elements in the ontology. This idea is related to the iterative conception of sets (Gödel 1964, Boolos 1971), a powerful paradigm in the philosophy of mathematics designed to prevent paradoxes (e.g. the “Russell set”).

Besides the usual topics, this edition of FOUST aims to explore how similar ideas can be implemented in applied ontology. What does it mean to have a constructional ontology, in practice? Are there recurring patterns that can be considered as ontological givens? Do reusable patterns of constructions exist? What are the conceivable means of construction, and, crucially, what are the practical advantages of adopting such an approach in applied ontology?

In fostering and starting a discussion of these themes, FOUST VIII welcomes presentations of ongoing research and perspectives that encourage interdisciplinary dialogue among the diverse sub-fields of applied ontology. Papers centred around the traditional workshop topics are also highly encouraged.

Topics of interest thus include (but are not limited to):

  • Constructional approaches in applied ontology.
  • Methodological aspects in applied ontology. 
  • Changes to existing foundational ontologies/extensions by new modules.
  • Novel research on any specific category or topic that is usually covered by foundational ontology:
    • functions, 
    • roles, 
    • time, 
    • mereology, 
    • ontological dependence, 
    • constitution, 
    • properties and intensional entities, 
    • collectives and social entities.
  • Theoretical results about specific foundational ontologies (e.g., consistency proofs, modularizations)
  • Application results of foundational ontologies in AI, the Semantic Web, Linguistics, and more.
  • Conceptual and formal comparisons and alignments of foundational ontologies
  • Relationship and alignment of foundational ontologies and domain ontologies. 
  • Philosophical foundations for applied ontology.

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