Roles and dependence

"Nicola Guarino" <>
Message-id: <guarino.1161926647F@>
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 95 20:30:07 +0100
From: "Nicola Guarino" <>
Subject: Roles and dependence
Cc: "Pat Hayes" <>, "Peter Simons" <>,
        "Barry Smith" <>
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My reaction times to the interesting messages coming from these (two?!)
lists are very slow, due to the fact that I force myself to push them in
background, hoping to be able to do my ordinary work... I must say I admire
people able to answer so quickly, but I don't know how can they do anything

However, I will try to isolate some points in the recent debate about roles
which still require discussion. Let's start with the notion of conceptual

Pat Hayes:

>> A predicate like Person, on the
>>other hand, can be conceived as indepedent if the fact that X is a Person
>>does not necessarily imply that somebody else is an instance of another
>>predicate ("Firstness").
>Ah, careful. It does, I suggest, imply that some THING must be an instance
>of another prediacte and have a relation to X. For example a Person must
>have their time of birth. Every concept we have gets its meaning from the
>network of relations that bind it to other concepts. There arent any
>'primitive' ones. 

I report here the complete definition of (strong) conceptual dependence
taken from Simons' book (see DD2 p. 297, DD5 p. 303)

A predicate A is (strongly) conceptually dependent on B iff:

   necessary ( (A x) implies (exists y) ((B y) and not (y Part-of x)) ) and
   posssible ( (exists x) (A x) ) and not necessary ( (exists x) (B x) )

(the second line of the formula avoids trivial cases).

Now supposing that A is "Person" and B is "TimeOfBirth", then it would seem,
at a first sight, that Person is dependent. The crucial points here are the
meaning of "TimeOfBirth" and the notion of Part-of we use. Suppose that the
extension of "TimeOfBirth" is just a set of numbers (time stamps). As such,
these numbers are not parts of persons, and so we conclude that Person is

The notion of Part-of assumed by Husserl, however, was much more general
than the one commonly used, in the sense that he considered the properties
of a thing (like the color of a particular rose, for instance) as parts of
such thing (he called such parts "moments"). In this sense, if we consider a
TimeOfBirth as a particular event and not as an abstract number, we may see
such event as a "part" of a person and conclude that Person is independent.
However, I must say that I don't like such a generalization of Part-of, and
I would better introduce a separate relation like "Belongs-to". The formal
characterization of such relation of such a relation is - I believe - an
open (and important) research issue.

Peculiar aspects of such a relation seem to be the following ones:

- It satisfies most (all?) properties of classical mereology

- If x belongs to y, then x is existentally dependent on y (another form of
dependence, among individuals this time!)

- If x belongs to y, then x and y are of a different "kind" (e.g., x is an
event and y is a physical object)

Coming now to the general position hold by Pat, namely that everything is
intimately connected with everything else, I believe that the notions of
dependence used above can help to isolate "islands" within this mess: maybe,
the notion of "clusters" proposed by you, Pat, many years ago, can be
revisited in order to use some suitable criterion of dependence in order to
isolate them.



Nicola Guarino
National Research Council     phone: +39 49 8295751
LADSEB-CNR                    fax:   +39 49 8295778
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