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Re: homonym URIs (Re: What if an URI also is a URL)

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 11:56:37 -0500
Message-Id: <p06230919c295d1f928cd@[]>
To: "John Black" <JohnBlack@kashori.com>
Cc: "Ian Davis" <lists@iandavis.com>, "Sandro Hawke" <sandro@w3.org>, <semantic-web@w3.org>

>Please forgive me, Ian, I'm going to highjack this for myself.

Excellent summary, thanks. Of course I entirely agree, wish I had 
said it this clearly myself.


>Ian Davis wrote:
>>On 12/06/2007 17:21, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>>You are begging the question. Suppose an ontology asserts
>>>ex:Venus rdf:type ex:AstronomicalBody .
>>>Now, what ties that object URI to the actual concept of being an 
>>>astronomical body?
>This ambiguity between concept and object is one of the most common 
>I see in semantic web discussions. But surely the two are different.
>"The planet Venus circles the sun" - sounds plausible
>"The concept Venus circles the sun" - huh?
>Also, at least for terrestrial objects, it is actually possible to 
>attach a URI to the referent it denotes.
>see this image: 
>And real world examples of this are bar codes on products, which 
>denote classes of things, and bar codes on special delivery packages 
>which denote individual shipments. The reason this works is that by 
>placing a symbol directly on an object, you enable a shared 
>experience or "perception" of that package among all those agents 
>that encounter it.
>>>And so on for all the other URIs in all the other OWL/RDF 
>>>ontologies. The best you can do is to appeal to the power of model 
>>>theory to sufficiently constrain the interpretations of the entire 
>>>global Web of formalized information. But that argument from 
>>>Herbrand's theorem (basically, if it has a model at all then it 
>>>has one made entirely of symbols) applies just as well no matter 
>>>how large the ontology is.
>>Out of interest how do you attach the English word "Venus" to the 
>>physical body that you are referring to?
>This is the question. And the short answer is, you don't. That's the 
>point. That isn't how it works, in general. In natural language, a 
>reference from a symbol such as "Venus" to the planet Venus is based 
>on the shared experience of the speaker and hearer, or writer and 
>reader. In speech especially there is often a bit of a dance, or at 
>least a kind of a handshake, between the sender and receiver to 
>establish and maintain a reference.
>"I think Venus is wonderful!"
>"Yeah, I just love her backhand."
>"No. I meant the planet, not the tennis player"
>"Ah, the evening star, I'll never forget the night my mother pointed 
>that out to me and told me it was actually a planet named Venus."
>When I write the word Venus, I do it expecting you, my readers, to 
>have had similar experiences to me. I expect you studied the planets 
>in first grade, have access to WikiPedia, can clearly see the sky, 
>that some trusted elder spoke the word "Venus" and pointed your 
>attention to a bright light in the sky, etc., etc. Also, if I know 
>that there may be confusion, because the word can be ambiguous, I 
>may add to the dance with a little jig, as in, "I think Venus, the 
>planet, is wonderful." If I have already established the context, 
>however, I may count on you to disambiguate it yourself. In a report 
>about the planets of our solar system, I expect you to infer 
>yourself that I mean Venus to refer to the planet, not the tennis 
>Restoring some of Pat's remarks, "The only way out of this is to 
>somewhere appeal to a use of the symbolic names - in this case, the 
>IRIs or URIrefs - outside the formalism itself, a use that somehow 
>'anchors' or 'grounds' them to the real world they are supposed to 
>refer to."
>What he is calling "...outside the formalism itself...", I am 
>referring to as shared experiences, following John Dewey, and which 
>Herbert Clark calls common ground, Kripke calls a name baptism, and 
>Searle refers to as the background.
>So the big, big question, IMHO, for the semantic web is this. What 
>can be done to mimic, in some minimal, but sufficient way, using 
>existing web technologies, in a way that machines can utilize if 
>possible, the grounding of URI in something outside the formalism of 
>>work - http://www.talis.com/platform
>>play - http://iandavis.com/blog

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Received on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 16:56:52 UTC

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