This year's SPE focuses on ontology:
It consists in two special session:
Special session 1:
Applied Ontology and Natural Language
Massimiliano Carrara (Padua), Cirio de Florio (Padua), Nicola Guarino (Trento), Vittorio Morato (Padua), Paolo Valore (Milan)
Speakers (more TBA):
Nicola Guarino (Trento)
Laure Vieu (Toulouse)
Special Session 2:
Ontology and Generative Syntax
Guglielmo Cinque (Venice), John Collins (East Anglia), Giuliana Giusti (Venice), Heidi Harley (Arizona), Wolfram Hinzen (ICREA, Barcelona), Richard Kayne (NYU), Friederike Moltmann (CNRS, New York)
John Collins (East Anglia)
Andrea Moro (Pavia)
Gillian Ramchand (Tromsoe)
Boban Arsenijevic (University of Niš), TBC
Ontology in the past was considered mainly a pursuit of philosophers, asking questions about being in most general terms. While some philosophers made appeal to natural language in order to argue for an ontological category or notion, others have rejected such an appeal arguing that the ontology reflected in language diverges significantly from what there really is, from any philosophically accepted ontology. Whatever one's view may be of what a philosopher should pursue, it has become clear, especially with the development of natural language semantics, that the ontology of natural language is an important object of study in itself, as the subject matter of Natural Language Ontology. In addition, ontology is now also being studied with respect to other areas of cognition, as Applied Ontology.
Session 1: Applied Ontology and Natural Language
Differently from pure metaphysics, applied ontology, as conceived today, can't ignore the role of language and cognition. Indeed, as long as its goal is to make explicit (by means of computer-readable conceptual models) people?s assumptions about reality, applied ontology is an intrisically interdisciplinary area of research, which involves philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science, as well as computer science.
We welcome therefore talks concerning the ontological grounds of cognition and natural language semantics; the impact of linguistic analysis on conceptual modeling; the role of lexical resources and NLP for ontology engineering; and the role of formal ontology for natural language understanding, image understanding, and the development of
lexical resources and NLP tools.
Session 2: Ontology and Generative Syntax
Not only semantics bears on the ontology of natural language. There also more direct connections to syntax (within the generative tradition). Various categories and elements that syntacticians have posited appear to reflect ontological notions, such as existence, ontological dependence, parthood, causation (or more generally grounding), plurality and unity, as well as ontological categories (events, facts, tropes, qualities etc). Moreover, within generative linguistics the question arises whether and in what way language bears a relation to objects. As has often been pointed out, a great range of objects can be the semantic values of 'referential' NPs in natural language that most philosophers and even nonphilosophers, upon reflection, may be unwilling to accept. But does this mean referential NPs in natural language could only be viewed as standing for entities of another level of syntax as Chomsky has argued, or can one make sense in another way of a rich ontology of what we appear to conceive of as objects, at least when using natural language?'