As the (in)famous definition states: "An ontology is an explicit specification of a conceptualization". However, an ontology is also a philosophical theory of existence, a knowledge management resource, a database schema, or a type of knowledge representation artefact on the semantic web. Over the years the term 'ontology' has been used in so many different ways that one can no longer be sure what is meant by it at any given occasion. This book clarifies the role ontologies play in knowledge representation; it discusses the distinctions with their use in philosophy, gives insight in the features, rationale and limitations of the OWL 2 web ontology language, and provides a critical review of methodologies and design principles advocated to improve the quality of ontologies. It covers both theory and practice of knowledge acquisition, representation and ontologies; it emphasises human understanding as knowledge structuring principle, and demonstrates this approach in the development of a core ontology of basic legal concepts (LKIF Core) and in the exploration of expressive ontology design patterns for the representation of social reality, change and causation, actions and transactions. In doing so it contributes to a better understanding of the representation of ontologies; or rather, what it means to do ontology representation.
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