Ontologies for Agent-Based Modeling in Social Sciences

Session Chairs:
Juliette Rouchier (LAMSADE, CNRS, University Paris-Dauphine )
Denis Phan (GEMASS, CNRS Univerity Paris-Sorbonne)

In knowledge engineering, ontology is a specification of a conceptualization of a given domain. It deals with the formalization of the objects of knowledge in that domain: abstract types of ontological elements or objects are defined, together with their relations. If we consider Agent Based Models as a particular form of domain, ontology can be viewed as a step in the process of formalizing the model. More specifically, the process of building ontology could be a mediator between model makers and domains experts to formalize ABM. Ontologies are also used for assessment and evaluation of ABM. Such use of ontologies, defined by an “ontological test”, crossing philosophical and computer science insights, helps to solve questions of verification and comparison during the process of model building.

The building of ontology makes explicit the “ontological commitment” of the conceptual framework related to the model: for the contemporary philosopher Barry Smith, ontology is “the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality”; in a broader sense it refers to the study “of what might exist”. Then, defining ontology consists in analyzing a domain, identifying the relevant ontological basic elements (objects, qualities, properties, relations, processes), and the operations on these ontological elements. Ontology puts constraints on the concepts that we are entitled to use in a domain.

Our session deals with the necessary categories to define an agent in an ABM. Agent is an entity with a “capability of action” on its/his environment that do not imply that such “agent” needs to be human-like individual but can be “active unity”. This raises many ontological questions such as:
- Cognitive agents internal architecture, belief and their revision, emotions…
- Agent identity and relationship between internal and external stance: To act, agent has to link determinants of actions with consequences of these actions
- What ontologies for “collective” belief and “collective” action;
- What kind of relations are needed to constitute embeddedness, social object, collective entities, organizations, institutions etc…
- How to model ontologies different forms of emergence and immergence ?

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