A Critical Assessment of the Bunge-Wand-Weber Ontology for Conceptual Modeling
Gove N. Allen
Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business
Salvatore T. March
Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics
16th Annual Workshop on Information Technolgies & Systems (WITS) Paper
The most influential work in the application of ontology to conceptual modeling is that of Wand and Weber (1990, 1995) who used the ontology posed by Mario Bunge (1977). However, Bunge's ontology is concerned with representing the material world - the world of material objects that possess physical properties existing independently from human perception. It has no place for human intentions, interpretations, creations, or meaning. It is unconcerned about institutional reality - the world of conceptual objects and attributes created by human intentions and for human purposes. Examples of such conceptual objects are corporations, government agencies, money, educational institutions, contracts, and transactions. None of these are material objects about which Bunge's ontology is concerned yet they are at the core of what business organizations are. Lacking constructs for such objects, Bunge's ontology is an inappropriate foundation for conceptual modeling in the context of organizational information systems.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 6
Keywords: conceptual modeling, ontology, concrete object, conceptual object
JEL Classification: M10, M19, M49
Date posted: June 28, 2007 ; Last revised: November 23, 2012
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