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RE: Terms and statements (was: consensus and ownership)

From: Lynn, James (Software Services) <james.lynn@hp.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 15:21:11 -0400
Message-ID: <8ECD74533C4FF04ABE75939A15F00BE44EC498@ataexc01.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: <bparsia@isr.umd.edu>, "Graham Klyne" <GK@ninebynine.org>
Cc: "Thomas B. Passin" <tpassin@comcast.net>, <public-sw-meaning@w3.org>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bijan Parsia [mailto:bparsia@isr.umd.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 1:48 PM
> To: Graham Klyne
> Cc: Thomas B. Passin; public-sw-meaning@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Terms and statements (was: consensus and ownership)
> On Thursday, October 16, 2003, at 09:52  AM, Graham Klyne wrote:
> At 08:47 16/10/03 -0400, Thomas B. Passin wrote:
> Graham Klyne wrote:
> This idea of meaning being based in consensus also appears in 
> the work by 
> Quine that I mentioned the other week [1].
> A possible difference in position would be that you talk 
> about the meaning 
> of a URI, where Quine's analysis suggest that it's not the 
> individual terms 
> but complete statements that have meaning.  (I think that's a 
> point that Pat 
> has been trying to press, too.)
> I think that individual terms _do_ have meaning for people.
> So what? I mean, you may think that, it may be useful to 
> think that (e.g., in 
> teaching language), but its a very hard thing (impossible, 
> according to 
> many!) to establish.
> Oh wait, I was reading you a bit too strongly. see below.
>  For example, the word "gravity" certainly has meaning for 
> me.  It may well 
> be that my sense of its meaning comes mainly from a large 
> collection of 
> statments that I have heard or uttered in the past - along 
> with personal 
> experience - but nevertheless the term itself carries meaning for me.
> You may associate meaning with the term but what *gives* it 
> is meaning? 
> In other words, in what *makes* have the meaning it does? Also, the 
> Quinian notion is more that statements (or sets of 
> statements) are the 
> *primary* fonts of meaning. That's compatible with terms 
> having meaning.
> Of course, this is in tension (surface tension, at least) with the 
> compositional theory of meaning, i.e., for truth functional 
> logic that the 
> truth of the statement is a function of the truth of its components.

I'm a little confused about the connection between truth and meaning, at least as it pertains to terms, by themselves or as components of a statement; or maybe this is your point. As a simple, perhaps trivial example in first order logic, consider a constant c which refers to some object. 
What is the meaning of c? 
Is the meaning of c ambiguous? 
How is a URI different from a constant? 
What is the truth value of c?

In my way of thinking, the truth doesn't become a consideration for c until the application of a relation to c. Meaning, on the other hand, can be said to be the witnessing of an object by c. Does this make sense or have I missed the point here?


> However, I think this is a blushing herring. Holism and 
> consensus focus are 
> somewhat distinct.
> So, while I agree that consensus based meaning, in some 
> sense, is present 
> in some of Quine's work, I don't agree that his Holism (or 
> *just* holism) 
> requires consensus or perhaps even uses consensus. (For example, 
> sentences telling me that I'm wrong in my use of a term 
> needn't have my 
> assent, or even lack of opposistion.)
> [snip]
> Cheers,
> Bijan Parsia.
Received on Thursday, 16 October 2003 15:21:37 UTC

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