Identity and Subsumption

  • Nicola Guarino
  • Christopher Welty
Part of the Information Science and Knowledge Management book series (ISKM, volume 3)


The intuitive simplicity of the so-called is-a (or subsumption) relationship has led to widespread ontological misuse. Where previous work has focused largely on the semantics of the relationship itself, we concentrate here on the ontological nature of its arguments, in order to tell whether a single is-a link is ontologically well-founded. For this purpose, we introduce some techniques based on the philosophical notions of identity, unity, and essence, which have been adapted to the needs of taxonomy design. We demonstrate the effectiveness of these techniques by taking real examples of poorly structured taxonomies and revealing cases of invalid generalization.


Physical Object Essential Property Formal Ontology Identity Criterion Actual Existence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicola Guarino
    • 1
  • Christopher Welty
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Systems Science and Biomedical Engineering of the Italian National Research Council (LADSEB-CNR)PadovaItaly
  2. 2.Computer Science DepartmentVassar CollegePoughkeepsieUSA

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