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Re: Refers Or Denotes?

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 14:23:38 +0100
Cc: "public-rdf-comments@w3.org" <public-rdf-comments@w3.org>, public-webid Group <public-webid@w3.org>, "public-philoweb@w3.org" <public-philoweb@w3.org>
Message-Id: <F7874C45-4000-4BA7-BE10-675261A57E69@bblfish.net>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>

On 13 Feb 2013, at 02:35, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us> wrote:

> Henry, my previous reply was whisked off as a personal note before I realized that a more official WG reply was needed. You will get the more official one soon. It will not differ in essential content. We will try to make it clear, in the new RDF specs being written, that 'denotes' and 'refers to' are being used interchangeably to mean the same thing. 

Ok, thanks. That helps. 

I have updated section 4 of our spec to use the language, and to show the synonymy relation between 
denotes and refers, which seems to be accepted practice in the philosphy literature. The illustration here shows this clearly now: 

https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/WebID/raw-file/tip/spec/identity-respec.html#overview

Here is some backing for this:

Frege's foundational "Über Sinn und Bedeutung" seems to mostly have been translated as "Sense and Reference" but also as "Sense and Denotation"
Prof. Robert Brandom in "Making it Explicit" always uses "referers to" and puts "denotes" in parenthesis right after.
Gareth Evans who wrote the 500 page book "The Varieties of Reference" used both terms in his article "The causal theory of names" http://spruce.flint.umich.edu/~simoncu/325/evans.pdf

> 
> However, Kingsley does bring up an excellent point, which is that we do need to carefully distinguish denote/refer-to, on the one hand, from the AWWW terminology of "identify" on the other. What is identified may not be what is referred to, and vice versa; and IRIs may refer even when they don't identify anything. 


Looking this up here:

 http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#identification

Do you say that because they use the term, indirect identification too?

  http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#indirect-identification

This is indeed the type of vagueness we are trying to be very careful to avoid.

I moved the text the following text from talk of identify to distinguishing.
https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/WebID/raw-file/tip/spec/identity-respec.html#overview

For example:

[[
The WebID Profile URI - "http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/card" - denotes the document describing the person (or more generally any agent) who is the referent of the WebID URI. 
The WebID Profile gives the sense of the WebID: its RDF Graph contains a Concise Bounded Description of the WebID such that this subgraph forms a definite description of the referent of the WebID, that is, a description that distinguishes the referent of that WebID from all other things in the world.
The document can for example contain relations to another document depicting the WebID referent. Or it can related the WebID to Principals used by different authentication protocols. ( More information on WebID and other authentication protocols can be found on the WebID Identity Interoperability page ).
]]

Though I think "identify" has a role too, especially when one is relating two names via what when made explicit turns out to be an owl:sameAs description.



> 
> Pat
> 
> 
> On Feb 12, 2013, at 2:58 PM, Henry Story wrote:
> 
>> A question that came up on the WebID mailing list. We'd just like some clarification 
>> for the use of denotes, as the issue has come up there.
>> 
>> On 11 Feb 2013, at 21:37, Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com> wrote:
>> 
>>> Henry / Andrei,
>>> 
>>> I current see [ in https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/WebID/raw-file/tip/spec/identity-respec.html ]
>>> "A WebID is an HTTP URI which *refers* to an Agent (Person, Organization, Group, Device, etc.)."
>>> 
>>> But in the context of RDF based Linked Data, the RDF workgroup (after serious thought on this matter) [1] has opted to use what would equate to:
>>> 
>>> A WebID is an HTTP URI which *denotes* an Agent (Person, Organization, Group, Device, etc.).
>>> 
>>> The more we stick to definitions and terminology being used across other W3C groups the easier things will be (on the appreciation and adoption front)  for WebID, over the long haul.
>> 
>>> 
>>> Links:
>>> 
>>> 1. http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-rdf11-concepts-20130115/#resources-and-statements .
>>> 2. http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-rdf11-concepts-20130115/ -- latest RDF 1.1 Concepts and Abstract Syntax edition .
>> 
>> I am not sure why "denotes" is being taken up by the RDF group nowadays, when most philosophy books and logic books tend to use the word "refer". Most engineers use the word refer too on a daily basis. 
>> 
>> In fact it is quite clear from the RDF concepts text that the two words are near synonymous, since what an IRI denotes is called its referent:
>> 
>> [[
>> Any IRI or literal denotes some thing in the universe of discourse. These things are called resources. Anything can be a resource, including physical things, documents, abstract concepts, numbers and strings; the term is synonymous with “entity”. The resource denoted by an IRI is called its referent, 
>> ]]
>> 
>> I am ok with denotes. But we can also use referent according to that text. So I don't think this is a very settled matter - given furthermore that the above is not yet a final spec. 
>> 
>> I would like to know why this decision is being made though. Is that just an aesthetic statement, or is there more behind it?
>> 
>> Henry
>> 
>>> 
>>> -- 
>>> 
>>> Regards,
>>> 
>>> Kingsley Idehen	
>>> Founder & CEO
>>> OpenLink Software
>>> Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
>>> Personal Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
>>> Twitter/Identi.ca handle: @kidehen
>>> Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/112399767740508618350/about
>>> LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kidehen
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>> 
>> Social Web Architect
>> http://bblfish.net/
>> 
> 
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Received on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 13:24:14 GMT

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