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Re: Refers Or Denotes?

From: Adrian Pohl <pohl@hbz-nrw.de>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:23:53 +0100
Message-Id: <511BB009020000140004DB4A@agrippa.hbz-nrw.de>
To: "Henry Story" <henry.story@bblfish.net>, "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: "public-philoweb@w3.org" <public-philoweb@w3.org>, "public-rdf-comments@w3.org" <public-rdf-comments@w3.org>, "public-webid Group" <public-webid@w3.org>
Are "denote" and "refer to" really used synonymously in philosophy? As
far as I remember, "refer to" is used only with reference to proper
names while "denote" is also used regarding the extension of a predicate
(in RDF that would be the relation between an rdfs:Class and its
instances). Thus, in the context of WebID I'd prefer using "refer to".
Or does a predicate refer to the objects in its extension?

- Adrian

>>> On 13.2.2013 at 14:23, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:


> 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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>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
> 
> Social Web Architect
> http://bblfish.net/


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Received on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:24:32 GMT

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