On the need for identity in ontology-based conceptual modelling

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Conference Proceeding
CRPIT, 2015, 165 pp. 9 - 20 (12)
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Conceptual modelling is often argued to be a core technique in information systems development. An important aspect of conceptual modelling is the ontological and philosophical questions of how to conceive of object existence and identity. Despite significant interest in the topic, formal agreement on how object identity should be represented in modelling languages remains an open question. In the literature, the predominant view is that an object, or entity, is a modelling construct used to represent things. Contrary to this view, we draw on theories of language use and social ontology to understand object identity based on the notion that identity cannot be limited to the identity of physical things. The emphasis is on how language is used to create conceptual entities in a way that maintains fidelity to physical reality and ensures reliable identification of entities across domains. The theoretical implications of this work are primarily the new perspective of conceptual modelling that social ontology affords and the formal introduction and ontological grounding of institutional entities, which have so far been treated rather incidentally. Practical implications include a better foundation for designing and selecting identifiers and classes
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