weak ontology

A weak ontology is a limited, temporary and constrained sample of ontology that is only capable of solving well-defined and limited problems within a particular problem domain. It shares ontological metaphors with this domain but will clash with other such widely accepted metaphors not of this domain.

An enterprise taxonomy can be used to make a weak ontology for a learning organization but will typically fail if it is applied outside the industry or domain of concern. See Why Mergers Fail for one example of how such failures occur.

A weak ontology may arise from historical ethical tradition or simple best practice. Indeed those are the usual sources. Only tests of hermaneutic reasonableness and metaphorical coherence should apply to a weak ontology. It does not typically pass the tests applied in philosophy as such.


Four examples from weak to not quite so weak:

The almost absurd US e-government taxonomy actually published on an official web, which seems to reflect a single command hierarchy and thus confuses the container metaphor: with order-giving:


Verna Allee's intangible capital asset interactions, which are more honestly expressed as a Venn diagram and define eight processes:


Marcelo Friere's business game model which at least has both inclusion and semantic links:


Craig Hubley's analysis of party brand assumptions of the Green Party of Canada Living Platform as used in political marketing during 2004:


changing it

Attempts to change a weak ontology may be called deep framing. Attempts to do so without taking into account the impact on life/bodies may be called propaganda from those taking a living systems perspective, though, those incapable of such a perspective may also use that word, e.g. seeking to "explode propaganda" or some other such non-body-relevant terminology.

The goal of information warfare is often to change the operant metaphor - especially a deeper ontological metaphor that implies a view of safety or closure.

when is it too weak?

The party brand assumptions was the subject of a fairly honest analysis in the paper Living Platform in Practice which offered an open critique of its known failure in 2005. See GPC Council Crisis.

Hubley proposed that this model of party branding simply and foolishly exploited found trust without earning or generating any of its own. It had no real living systems perspective: Thus the ontology was simply too weak:

It needed at least some explicit if not scrupulous attention to at least body safety of extant conceptual metaphors, e.g. use of the term:for, and some closure in the form of organization protocols especially candidate protocol. Without these, he predicted the effort would simply fail to be perceived as being "fair" by the public. He proposed attention be paid to closure in the party and self- perceived safety of the voters outside it:


Hubley claims that fairness is itself a function of safety and closure perceptions - if these are ignored in heteropoiesis then no central stable concept of fairness can emerge and also no autopoietic network assumptions apply. If the safety and closure issues were however handled according to the Four Pillars the party espoused, very consistently, the overall perception of even difficult metaphors the party used, would be "fair"


just right: living ontology

The living ontology is a weak ontology applied in open politics itself and is based on civic best practice, wiki best practice and other best practices that are implied or expressed in a list of process terms that includes those used at openpolitics.ca itself - especially commit verbs (for their unique closure) and other control verbs.

Due to their impact on safety, eventually all human command verbs should be included, as the domain of concern is that of the human command and control systems that are called the state.