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Building Ontologies With Basic Formal Ontology$
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Robert Arp, Barry Smith, and Andrew D. Spear

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262527811

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262527811.001.0001

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Introduction to Basic Formal Ontology I: Continuants

Introduction to Basic Formal Ontology I: Continuants

(p.85) 5 Introduction to Basic Formal Ontology I: Continuants
Building Ontologies With Basic Formal Ontology

Robert Arp

Barry Smith

Andrew D. Spear

The MIT Press

We introduce Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), a top-level realist ontology originally developed for use in the design of domain ontologies for natural science but now used also in other domains, including defense and government administration. BFO is based on a fundamental distinction between continuants – entities which endure through time – and occurrents – entities which occur in time. We focus on the continuant side of BFO, including independent continuants (material entities, including objects, their material parts and their boundaries), dependent continuants (attributes of material entities, including qualities, roles and functions), and the spatial regions in which material entities are located. Qualities, roles and functions are subtypes of continuant because they can endure through time. For example a role – such as the student role – exists, and can be realized, on successive days; or a function – such as the function of the heart to pump blood – exists, and can be exercised over many years.

Keywords:   Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), realist ontology, continuant, occurrent, object, quality, disposition, role, function, spatial region, boundary, location

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