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Domain Theory Roberto Poli. DomainsDomainsDomains We need domain theory for the same reasons science is developed into different branches: Reality is.

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Presentation on theme: "Domain Theory Roberto Poli. DomainsDomainsDomains We need domain theory for the same reasons science is developed into different branches: Reality is."— Presentation transcript:

1 Domain Theory Roberto Poli

2 DomainsDomainsDomains We need domain theory for the same reasons science is developed into different branches: Reality is too complex to be understood at a stroke The only way we have found to develop our understanding of reality is to fragment it into separate parts (our domains) and to proceed by analyzing one part at a time The guiding idea Segment the whole of reality into classes of connected phenomena Phenomena occurring within each class are more homogeneous than are phenomena pertaining to other classes, so that the task of explaining their behavior should be more easily accomplished Domain theory cannot be limited to science, however Many domains are only remotely, if at all, connected to science (common sense, behavioral practices, aesthetic experiences, etc)

3 Questions about Types of Domains Are there different types of domain? How many different types should be distinguished? What is their internal organization? How are the different types related to each other? Is there any methodology which helps to establish a domains boundaries? Domains Sharply defined domains with well-defined boundaries Blurred domains, depending on highly pragmatic decisions/interests Many domains present intermediate values between these two cases Underdeveloped state of the theory of domain

4 Domain Types of domain Domain in the proper sense (e.g. biology) Sub-domain or facet frameworks (e.g. genetics) Cross-domain (e.g. medicine) Micro-domain (e.g. edible substances) I shall presented the first two types in some detail Main difference between domains in the proper sense (first case) and all the other cases. This explains why finding a criterion with which to distinguish proper domains from the other domain-types is mandatory

5 The Framework Levels of Reality Domain Theory Wholes Levels of reality distinguish types of entities (material, psychological, social entities) Wholes distinguish types of structures (aggregate, system) A level of reality usually requires a vast array of cate- gories. I would like to see whether domains can be organized around some basic types of entities

6 A Proposal Domain 1 = Categorically closed, maximal partition of reality Categorically closed = even if the domains entities may be existentially dependent on lower and/or adjacent entities, they nevertheless require a categorical framework different from the one used to understand the entities of the existentially supporting levels Organisms require chemical entities (molecules) which require physical entities (atoms) as their matter. However, the frameworks needed to understand biology, chemistry and physics are different Maximal partition of reality = the domain includes all the entities that are selected by its categorical framework Whatever the merits of this proposal, it entails that not any partition whatsoever is a domain (in the proper sense)

7 From Levels to Domains Hypothesis: For any domain, some of its entities are more characterizing than others Biology (simplified) Biological entity (BE) Living entity (LE) Organism (OR)

8 Biological Entity (BE) BEs delimit the field of biology BEs include biological items such as the nucleus of a cell, the membrane of a cell, its organelles, DNA, mRNA, and urine. None of these is a properly living entity: they pertain to parts of a living entity or to their products or waste (urine) BEs also include non-biological items such as the nests made by birds and the pebbles eaten by chickens. Some nests are made of twigs and other matter; others are f.i. deliberately made holes in the ground. Holes and pebbles are not biological entities in any proper sense of the term. They pertain, however, to the field of biology, because they are constructed by authentically biological entities (organisms) or are needed by them. We can consider them as entities with a primary physical nature and a secondary biological one

9 Living entities (LE) LEs constitute a specific class of BEs. All LEs are systems, while not all BEs are. Furthermore, LEs are metabolic systems, i.e. LEs are entities that can survive if appropriate nutrients are provided. Cells, tissues and organs are cases in point.

10 Organisms (OR) ORs are autopoietic LEs, i.e. LEs able to produce the BEs of which they are composed. Two main types of ORs should be distinguished: unicellular and multicellular The distinction between unicellular and multicellular entities requires to articulated along the customary distinction between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The former are unicellular entities whose genome is not enclosed within the cells nucleus, while the latter can be either unicellular or multicellular and are such that their genome is enclosed within the cells nucleus A cell which is a unicellular organism is a BE, a LE and an OR. A multicellular organism as a whole is a BE, a LE and an OR. However, the cells of multicellular organisms are living entities but they are not organisms (a liver cell is a living entity but not an organism)

11 Caveat! If one subtracts LEs from the field of the biological BEs, what remains coincides with the field of organic chemistry. This shows the link between biology and its underlining level of reality However, there are differences. The subtraction of living entities modifies the situation in such a way that a number of questions become unanswerable. Even if urine is a purely chemical substance (well, a mixture of substances), how can one explains its presence without taking organisms and their metabolism into consideration? The questions asked from within organic chemistry and those asked from within biology are different. This shows that they are different domains. The reason for their difference lies in the entities grounding their specific levels of reality: molecules for chemistry and cells for biology

12 Facets The next step after establishing the core categories is to determine the dimensions of analysis of the domains entities. This is where facet analysis comes in With reference to the domain of biology, two series of facets follow The first series lists the characteristics from which an organism as an actually given object-type can be seen. The second series of facets lists all the other characteristics, those not focused on the organism as an actually given object-type

13 Facets, first series The first series is centred on the governing concept of organism as an individual whole and lists the viewpoints from which organisms as an actually given object can be seen. One can then consider at least the following four cases: Classification (Taxa), Structure, Function, Behavior Classification models biological taxonomies Structure applies part-whole analysis to cells and organisms, for both parts, organs and tissues. Traditionally this type of analysis is called cytology for cells and anatomy for multicellular organisms Function corresponds to what is traditionally called physiology and model the working of the part descriptively listed by the previous facet of the organism structure. In the case of the facet of functions, (serious) variations are usually called pathologies (to be further distinct between intra- and inter-systemic pathologies) Behavior deals with the organisms actions. It requires consideration of the organisms environment (ethology)

14 Facets, second series The second series of facets list all the other viewpoints, those not focused on the organism as an actually given object Two main cases derive Facets focussed on the organism as a whole. These may include the growth, development and reproduction of organisms Analysis of the various parts of this whole, e.g. the genes governing the production of the organism

15 Facets, again Objects pertaining to different domains may require different facets Establishing a universal list of facets will guide analysis and help in maintaining greater methodological coherence across domains

16 Facetsfacetsfacets By comparing and integrating the ancient Aristotelian list of categories with the list produced by the Classification Research Group, one obtains a 16-entry list A 16-dimension analysis, however, is both difficult to manage and cumbersome from a cognitive point of view Grouping the 16 dimensions into some groups provides an environment easier to understand and manage, and helps in adding consistency controls

17 The Table of Facets ItemAnalysisProcessContextSpacetime Name Kind (hyperonym) Internal pr Context (related to) Space Ambit (type of) OperationTime StructurePatient PropertyFunction MatterOutcome By-product Agent

18 Comments Unbalanced groups of categories Relevance of the group of processes Context underrepresented (may depend on not having discussed wholes) Entries of the groups analysis and process are mutually connected ItemAnalysisProcessContextSpacetime NameKindInternal prContextSpace AmbitOperationTime StructurePatient PropertyFunction MatterOutcome By-product Agent Levels of Reality Domain Theory Wholes

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