The ontology of conflict
This paper aims at clarifying the ontology of conflict as a preliminary for constructing a conflict mapping guide (Wehr 1979). After recalling the main definitions elaborated in different disciplines, the meaning of conflict is elicited through semantic analysis based on corpus evidence. Two fundamental meanings emerge: conflict as an interpersonal hostility between two or more human subjects, and conflict as a propositional incompatibility. These two states of affairs are significantly related, because the latter tends to generate the former whenever the incompatible positions are embodied by as many parties who feel personally questioned. The semantic analysis allows to sketch the ontology of the conflictual situation that can serve to generate a conflict mapping guide, and to face several crucial aspects that are relevant both to the study and to the management of conflicts. In the former perspective, it allows for a comparison of the situation of interpersonal conflict with the seemingly similar process of controversy.
Keywords: mediation, socio-cognitive conflict, semantic analysis, controversy, conflict resolution, ontology
Published online: 01 October 2008
Cited by 6 other publications
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