8th Workshop on Foundational Ontology

FOUST VIII program

– TBD –

Registrations to FOUST VIII, JOWO and FOIS are open and available at: https://www.utwente.nl/en/eemcs/fois2024/registration/

The FOIS 2024 program overview is available here: https://www.utwente.nl/en/eemcs/fois2024/program/


We are happy to announce our Keynote speaker: Salvatore Florio (University of Oslo).

Title: Introduction to Constructional Ontology

Abstract: In constructional ontology, entities emerge by construction, that is, from the application of constructors to objects. We explore this approach to ontology, focusing on three modules: the constructors, the inputs to the constructors, and the constructional process. Our aim is to identify and assess some key theoretical choices arising in an ontology of this kind.

Contributions (full, short papers, and abstracts)

  • Daniele Porello, Laure Vieu, Stefano Borgo, Francesco Compagno, Emilio M. Sanfilippo and Walter Terkaj. DOLCE in OWL: The Core Theory

Foundational ontologies, like DOLCE (an ISO standard), are often implemented in applications via their formalisations in the OWL language. These formalisations are approximations of the general theory to cope with the limited expressivity of OWL2. With this paper, we start presenting a core OWL2 module of DOLCE and we discuss how to extend it in different directions. After discussing earlier versions of DOLCE in first-order logic and in OWL, we present the architecture of our modular approach. We select a core fragment of DOLCE in OWL2 (termed “DOLCEbasic_OWL”), which provides the main taxonomy and binary relations of the foundational ontology. Then, we discuss how to extend DOLCEbasic_OWL with a module for expressing the n-ary relations of dolce (n > 2). We then fully present DOLCEbasicOWL and its taxonomy and relations, and propose a proof that this OWL2 version is compatible with the original version of DOLCE. Finally, we illustrate the functioning of our OWL2 rendering by means of an example. We conclude by discussing a number of other modules to cope with other core concepts and specific domai

  • Anton Gnatenko, Oliver Kutz and Nicolas Troquard. Building an Ontology of Computational Complexity

The field of computational complexity theory is a core theoretical subject in computer science with a significant impact also for real-world applications. Although a plethora of individual results are known, the conceptual organisation of this knowledge is still lacking. We propose the first steps towards creating an ontologically well-founded knowledge base for the theory of computational complexity that will allow storing, querying and reasoning over the vast knowledge of algorithmic problems, complexity classes and their relationships, developed by human experts. We determine the core concepts and relations of complexity theory and model them on two levels of approximation: the description logic SROIQ (a.k.a. OWL 2 DL) and first-order logic. Finally, we point out a number of phenomena that require more expressive formalisms beyond the first-order paradigm.

  • Riccardo Baratella. Being apt to and the Puzzle of Uniqueness

Perdurantism has been considered a theory revisionary of common-sense. In particular, it revises some common-sensical truth-value attributions to ordinary sentences. Facing this situation, perdurantists that are willing to save the appearances adopt some kind of reconciliatory strategy. In this article, we examine one specific puzzle that detects a contrast in the truth-value attributions between perdurantism and common-sense, the Puzzle from Uniqueness, and we investigate whether a new reconciliatory strategy based on the method of paraphrase succeeds to solve the Puzzle from Uniqueness, based on novel account of the expression “being apt to”.

  • Guendalina Righetti. The Mereology of Concepts: Preliminary Explorations

Do concepts have parts? In this paper, we take the simplifying assumption that concepts can be understood as (more or less structured) bundles of features and discuss the distinction between features and concepts in terms of the distinction between parts and wholes. In doing so, we will leverage different ideas related to Fine’s theory of parthood.

  • Fumiaki Toyoshima, Adrien Barton and Kathrin Koslicki. Artifactual Functions: A Dual, Realizable-Based View

In this paper we provide an ontological analysis of so-called “artifactual functions” by deploying a realizable-centered approach to artifacts which we have recently developed within the framework of the upper ontology Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). We argue that, insofar as material artifacts are concerned, the term “artifactual function” can refer to at least two kinds of realizable entities: novel intentional dispositions and usefactual realized entities — which inhere, respectively, in what we previously called “canonical artifacts” and “usefacts”. We show how this approach can help to clarify functions in BFO, whose current elucidation includes reference to the term “artifact”. In our framework, having an artifactual function implies being an artifact, but not vice versa; in other words, there are artifacts that lack an artifactual function.

  • Jacopo Berneri. Constructional Ontologies. Metaphysical Dependence and its Puzzles

The discussion surrounding metaphysical dependence in foundational ontology and, more in general, in philosophy is intricate and has been ongoing for a long time. In this work I outline how, by considering a few reasonably uncontroversial assumptions, the constructional approach provides a precise and intuitive understanding of dependence. This refocusing allows for a formal regimentation of dependence and offers a resolution to certain puzzling circularities apparently associated with this notion.

  • Fabrício H. Rodrigues, Joel Luis Carbonera and Mara Abel. Ontological Modeling of Events Based on the Notion of Systems

In this extended abstract, we present a novel approach for the ontological analysis and modeling of events, rooted in the notion of systems.

  • Chris Partridge, Andrew Mitchell, Sergio de Cesare, Andreas Cola, Mesbah Khan, Justin Price and Alexander Hierl. Taking a constructional turn to radically enrich a top ontology’s foundation: a case history

We aim to establish that there is at least one role for constructionalism in applied ontology by giving the case history of an early example of a case where the foundations of a top-level ontology are constructionally refactored. What we have called ‘taking the constructional turn’. The example is the BORO foundational ontology which has, over the last decade, been taking this turn. The paper starts by providing an evolutionary context for the case history. It then provides a chronological profile of the constructional turn and the radical enrichment it delivered. This clearly establishes the feasibility and benefits of this specific role for constructionalism in applied ontology.

  • Dilek Yargan and Ludger Jansen. Against Functions

Function is a term widely used in ontologies. Consequently, many foundational ontologies like BFO, DOLCE, SUMO, GFO, and YAMATO contain classes for functions, which are, in turn, referred to by many domain ontologies. It is, however, not clear whether all these classes really make up a coherent foundational category. In this paper, we collect and analyse definitions of function from various ontologies and the philosophical debate on functions in various areas, especially in biology, engineering and biomimetics. We discuss various strategies to deal with this wealth of ambiguity; we recommend avoiding the term as much as possible.

Fumiaki Toyoshima, Adrien Barton, Kathrin Koslicki and Olivier Massin. Artifacts, Production and Realizables

Artifacts remain nebulous entities, notwithstanding their relevance to various domains such as engineering, art, and archeology. It is traditionally assumed that the production of material artifacts involves modification: the act of changing the physical makeup of the material entities. However, this modification-based account of production and material artifacts may have difficulty in characterizing a wide range of artifacts. In this paper we develop an alternative theory of production and artifacts in terms of realizable entities (including dispositions, functions, and roles) within the framework of the upper ontology Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). The key idea is that the production of artifacts amounts to the coming into being of a special kind of realizable entity. This realizable-centered approach to artifacts can accommodate the modification-based account of artifact-production and serve as a theoretical basis for a comprehensive ontology of artifacts, ranging from material to abstract artifacts.

Call for papers

Important dates

  • Submission deadline (extended): April 17 April 27* (AoE), 2024
  • Notification: May 15 May 22, 2024
  • Camera-ready: July 30, 2024
  • Workshop: July 15-19, 2024

*Upon request, we offer a grace period until Friday, May 3rd. Please note that a paper’s draft must still be submitted by the April 27th deadline to allow us to initiate the bidding period.


Foundational Ontologies are attempts to systematise very high-level categories of thought or reality. In practical terms, they aim to understand and formalise the meaning of very general terms, such as object, event, property, time, quality, relation, and process. Once formalised, these terms provide the top-level categories that are in principle common to many (if not all) domains of application. Consequently, Foundational Ontologies are widely acknowledged as crucial tools for tackling system and software interoperability issues.

Despite this recognition, there is less consensus on the specific entities a foundational ontology should cover, its organisational structure, its scope, and even its role in relation to more specialised domain ontologies. This lack of consensus often reflects deep-rooted debates stemming from different philosophical perspectives on reality, mind, and language.

The workshop aims to create a platform for researchers to explore the foundational aspects of applied ontology. This encompasses discussing philosophical foundations, presenting new research on specific foundational ontologies, discussing existing foundational ontologies, comparing them, and examining their relevance to the broader ontological enterprise.

Topics of FOUST VIII

Applied ontology operates at the intersection of various disciplines. Many philosophical concepts and ideas have found fruitful applications in information systems, through their use and formalisation in applied ontology. Notably, philosophical inquiries into part-hood, ontological dependence, constitution, time, etc, have inspired concrete formalisations in applied ontology.

FOUST traditionally focuses on a series of topics in foundational ontology. In some editions, FOUST adds a special topic to attract attention to some research questions. Along with this tradition, this year’s focus revolves around the role of constructional approaches in applied ontology.

The concept of constructional ontology, introduced by Kit Fine in his influential paper “The Study of Ontology” (1991), involves assuming a set of ontological givens or basic elements and a set of constructors that can be iteratively applied to generate new elements in the ontology. This idea is related to the iterative conception of sets (Gödel 1964, Boolos 1971), a powerful paradigm in the philosophy of mathematics designed to prevent paradoxes (e.g. the “Russell set”).

Beside the usual topics, this edition of FOUST aims to explore how similar ideas can be implemented in applied ontology. What does it mean to have a constructional ontology, in practice? Are there recurring patterns that can be considered ontological givens? Do reusable patterns of constructions exist? What are the conceivable means of construction, and, crucially, what are the practical advantages of adopting such an approach in applied ontology?

In fostering and starting a discussion of these themes, FOUST VIII welcomes presentations of ongoing research and perspectives that encourage interdisciplinary dialogue among the diverse sub-fields of applied ontology. Papers centred around the traditional workshop topics are also highly encouraged.

Topics of interest thus include (but are not limited to):

  • Constructional approaches in applied ontology.
  • Methodological aspects in applied ontology.
  • Changes to existing foundational ontologies/extensions by new modules.
  • Novel research on any specific category or topic that is usually covered by foundational ontology:
    • functions, 
    • roles, 
    • time, 
    • mereology,
    • ontological dependence, 
    • constitution,
    • properties and intensional entities,
    • collectives and social entities.
  • Theoretical results about specific foundational ontologies (e.g., consistency proofs, modularizations)
  • Application results of foundational ontologies in AI, the Semantic Web, Linguistics and more.
  • Conceptual and formal comparisons and alignments of foundational ontologies.
  • Relationship and alignment of foundational ontologies and domain ontologies.
  • Philosophical foundations for applied ontology.


We encourage different types of contributions:

  • Abstract for presentation only: 2-3 pages (not included in the proceedings);
  • Short papers: 5-9 pages;
  • Full research papers: 10-14 pages.

(Page number includes references)

The submissions need to adhere to the one-column CEUR template available here: CEUR, Overleaf.

Submissions need to be uploaded on EasyChair as a single pdf: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=fois2024.

Submissions including semantic artefacts, methodologies, softwares, etc, need to adhere to the FAIR guidelines.

All contributions to JOWO workshops will be published in a joint CEUR proceedings volume, compare:


FOUST VIII will take place during the 10th Joint Ontology Workshops (JOWO2024), at the University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands. The event is held in conjunction with the International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS 2024). For further information about the venue, please visit accommodation, travelling.


Workshop Organizers

  • Greta Adamo, BC3 – Basque Centre for Climate Change
  • Guendalina Righetti, University of Oslo

Program Committee

  • Bahar Aameri, University of Toronto
  • João Paulo Almeida, Federal University of Espírito Santo
  • Adrien Barton, IRIT, CNRS
  • John Bateman, University of Bremen
  • Riccardo Baratella, University of Genoa
  • Luca Biccheri, ISTC-CNR Laboratory for Applied Ontology
  • Boyan Brodaric, Geological Survey of Canada
  • Stefano Borgo, ISTC-CNR Laboratory for Applied Ontology
  • Massimiliano Carrara, University of Padua
  • Carmen Chui, University of Toronto
  • Roberta Ferrario, ISTC-CNR Laboratory for Applied Ontology
  • Mattia Fumagalli, University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Pawel Garbacz, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
  • Pierdaniele Giaretta, University of Padova
  • Lucía Gómez Álvarez, INRIA & Univ. Grenoble Alpes
  • Ludger Jansen, University of Rostock
  • Gilles Kassel, University of Picardie Jules Verne
  • Oliver Kutz, KRDB, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Øystein Linnebo, University of Oslo
  • Claudio Masolo, ISTC-CNR Laboratory for Applied Ontology
  • Fabian Neuhaus, University of Magdeburg
  • Jeff Otte, University at Buffalo
  • Daniele Porello, University of Genoa
  • Emilio M. Sanfilippo, ISTC-CNR Laboratory for Applied Ontology
  • Barry Smith, SUNY Buffalo
  • Cassia Trojahn, UT2J & IRIT
  • Fumiaki Toyoshima, Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse (IRIT)
  • Laure Vieu, Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse
  • Salvatore Florio, University of Oslo
  • Riichiro Mizoguchi, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Steering committee

  • Stefano Borgo – ISTC-CNR, Laboratory for Applied Ontology, Trento, Italy
  • Oliver Kutz – Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
  • Frank Loebe – University of Leipzig, Germany
  • Fabian Neuhaus – Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany


E-mail:  guendalina.righetti@ifikk.uio.no, greta.adamo@bc3research.org, foustworkshop@gmail.com