Areas of Study » MA and PhD with a Focus in Ontology
Ontology is a foundational discipline of philosophy, which has its origins in ancient Greece and is represented in our own day by the work of analytical metaphysicians such as David Lewis and David Armstrong. Ontology in this philosophical sense is a theoretical discipline. It is (roughly) the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality.
At the same time ontology is a rapidly growing practical discipline at the intersection of philosophy and information science. Ontological tools and theories are increasingly being applied in bioinformatics, medical informatics, intelligence analysis, management science, in culture and museum informatics and in other fields, where they serve as a basis for improved classifications, information integration and automatic reasoning. The world's first conference on applied ontology was held in Buffalo in 1998, and the first issue of the new journal Applied Ontology was published in 2006.
With the increasing importance of ontology-based applications comes the need for research and teaching in the theoretical foundations of ontology. The University at Buffalo (UB) is a leading center of research in theoretical ontology. The work of six faculty members in the Department of Philosophy is focused primarily on ontology and UB includes also applied ontologists in a variety of disciplines, including biomedicine and geospatial analysis.
Philosophers with a primary focus in ontology in UB's Department of Philosophy include:
Thomas Bittner, specialist in formal ontology and its applications in geospatial and biomedical informatics
Maureen Donnelly, specialist in logic with applications to ontology-based reasoning in bioinformatics and other fields
David Hershenov, author of a series of papers on ontological aspects of medicine and biology
Neil Williams, philosopher working on causation, dispositions, and systematic metaphysics
Philosophers in the Department with interests in ontology and metaphysics include also:
Randall Dipert, research in logic, philosophy of mathematics and ontology; author of Artifacts, Art Works, and Agency (1993)
Kenneth M. Ehrenberg, working on the functional nature of law and the normative patterns in legal systems
Michael W. McGlone, research on theories of communication, the semantics-pragmatics interface, and the ontology of naming and identification
Ken Shockley, research interests include institutional design, the ontological status of collectives, collective agency, and collective responsibility.
Jiyuan Yu, specialist in Greek metaphysics; author of The Structure of Being in Aristotle's Metaphysics (2003)
For a list of Ontologist in other departments, please see Ontology Faculty List