W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-sw-meaning@w3.org > October 2003

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

From: Lynn, James (Software Services) <james.lynn@hp.com>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 09:11:02 -0400
Message-ID: <8ECD74533C4FF04ABE75939A15F00BE4694F4E@ataexc01.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: "pat hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: <public-sw-meaning@w3.org>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: pat hayes [mailto:phayes@ihmc.us]
> Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 4:45 PM
> To: Lynn, James (Software Services)
> Cc: public-sw-meaning@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Terms and statements (was: consensus and ownership)
> >  > -----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)
> >>
> >
> >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.
> Refers to some object *in which interpretation* ?? This nicely 
> illustrates Quine's point. Terms in logic don't refer to things all 
> by themselves, by virtue of their syntactic form. They only refer in 
> a particular interpretation. They really aren't names: there is no 
> such thing as logical baptism, no way in any logical semantics to 
> rigidly attach a constant to a single referent.

Agreed. Do I understand correctly that an ontology is an assignment of c to an object? An ontology is an interpretation (or at least a part of one, given owl:imports)?

> Now, which interpretation should I (the listener) use when trying to 
> figure out what you (the speaker) mean when you use that term? The 
> best I can possibly do is to assume that we are talking about some 
> interpretation which makes what you are saying (plus whatever else we 
> are presuming to be commonly held beliefs, the current contextual 
> facts of which we are aware, and so on) true. If assuming all that 
> enables me to figure out what is being referred to in the actual 
> world, then I know what you are talking about when you use 'c'. If 
> not, it doesn't.
> >What is the meaning of c?
> The question is meaningless.  Now, if c really was a name, that would 
> be a good question, and the answer would be: whatever it is the name 
> of.
> >Is the meaning of c ambiguous?
> >How is a URI different from a constant?
> For these discussions, not a lot. RFC 2396 insists that any URI 
> "identifies" a unique resource, but it provides no way for a resource 
> to be baptized by a URI, and a name that isn't attached to any 
> referent is hardly distinguishable from a constant symbol that isn't 
> a name.
> >What is the truth value of c?
> Eh?
Exactly. Just clarifying Bijan's notion of truth and meaning of statements relying on their components. I think he may have been talking about sentential logic anyway. I stuck with FOL to stay close to RDF. 
> >
> >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?
> The key point is that all the listener actually has is the syntax. 
> The intended semantics needs to be figured out somehow; and since 
> things like c don't carry their intended referents on their sleeves, 
> the best the listener can do is to use the publicly known semantics 
> of the *language* and the general assumptions of conversations - 
> people are asserting things they believe to be true, etc. - to figure 
> out a narrow enough set of interpretations that the intended meanings 
> can be figured out from the remaining ambiguity.

From Pat's earlier email: "There is lots of evidence that even in the simplest communications there are 
misalignments in meaning between the speaker and hearer concepts, but they do not matter." 

While you went on to say that they matter once we move into the formal world, do they really? I have two thoughts, neither of which I am asserting at this time:

a) No, they don't matter to a reasoning engine bacause (perhaps better to say 'if') the different models are equivalent structures. In so far as the engine is concerned you can't discern the difference.

b) Yes, they matter because (some) meaning lies beyond equivalence (up to isomorphism). 

Statement b) might lead to the conclusion that the SW, as constrained by RDF/OWL, only addresses equivalence up to isomorphism and cannot address aspects of meaning beyond this, e.g., social meaning.

Just fishing for ideas.


> Pat Hayes
> >Thanks,
> >James
> >
> >
> >>  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.
> >>
> >>
> -- 
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Received on Friday, 17 October 2003 09:11:05 UTC

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