2010 Volume 25 Issue 3 Pages 433-441
This essay concerns the problems surrounding the use of the term ``concept'' in current ontology and terminology research. It is based on the constructive dialogue between realist ontology on the one hand and the world of formal standardization of health informatics on the other, but its conclusions are not restricted to the domain of medicine. The term ``concept'' is one of the most misused even in literature and technical standards which attempt to bring clarity. In this paper we propose to use the term ``concept'' in the context of producing defined professional terminologies with one specific and consistent meaning which we propose for adoption as the agreed meaning of the term in future terminological research, and specifically in the development of formal terminologies to be used in computer systems. We also discuss and propose new definitions of a set of cognate terms. We describe the relations governing the realm of concepts, and compare these to the richer and more complex set of relations obtaining between entities in the real world. On this basis we also summarize an associated terminology for ontologies as representations of the real world and a partial mapping between the world of concepts and the world of reality.