Affiliations: Faculty of Information Technology, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Muenster, Germany. E-mail: email@example.com
Note:  Corresponding author: Jan Recker, Business Process Management Group, Faculty of Information Technology, Queensland University of Technology, 126 Margaret Street, Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia. Tel.: +61 7 3138 9479; E-mail: j.recker@ qut.edu.au.
Abstract: Conceptual modeling is a core activity within information systems analysis and design. In response to continuous criticisms targeting the foundation of conceptual modeling, the notion of ontology as a theoretical reference has gained immense popularity over recent decades. At the forefront of these ontology-based theories is the Bunge–Wand–Weber representation model, which has frequently been applied in conceptual modeling research, most notably to the task of evaluating conceptual Information Systems analysis and design models and modeling grammars. Recently, however, ontology-based theories themselves have been subjected to criticisms, in particular in respect to their epistemological presuppositions. In our paper we address the question of epistemology in conceptual modeling research based on ontological theories, and argue that there is an immanent need for publishing the epistemological assumptions of these theories in order to be able to critically evaluate boundaries, scope and limits of these theories for conceptual modeling. We present a discussion framework that facilitates the analysis of epistemological viewpoints and their implications. We apply this framework to the commonly known Bunge–Wand–Weber model and discuss the implications of our findings towards the feasibility of ontology as a reference theory for conceptual modeling.