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Re: Meaning of URIRefs (No Ancient Philosophical Disputes!)

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 17:15:52 -0500
Message-Id: <p05111b11b9df70ce48fa@[65.217.30.130]>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Cc: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>, www-rdf-interest@w3.org

>  >
>>  On Fri, 25 Oct 2002, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
>>  > It also is extraordinarily difficult to make a distinction between
>>  > definitional and non-definitional information.  For example, it is
>>  > definitional that tigers are mammals?  It is definitional that tigers come
>>  > from India?  It is definitional that tigers are an endangered species?  It
>>  > is definitional that tigers are a symbol of royalty?  Is it definitional
>>  > that tigers are to be revered?  Is it definitional that Tigger is a tiger?
>>
>>  I agree wholeheartedly. There's a huge literature in philosophy and the
>>  cognitive sciences on Natural Kind definitions, categories etc. We really
>>  really don't want to go there. Maybe in version 4.0, if any of us are
>>  still going... ;-) Nah, even then, trying to say of a category which of
>>  its characteristics are considered 'defining' vs 'descriptive' is a recipe
>>  for building brittle systems, since subsequently realising that some
>>  characteristic of a class was incidental rather than essential would
>>  undermine all uses of that class. Some topics are too murky and social to
>>  be worth formalising...
>
>I seem to recall from Materials (back when I thought I might be an
>engineer) that in general if you want something to be stronger, you
>have to accept that it will be more brittle.  It seems to me you're
>advocating soup.
>
>My definition of "definition" does *not* require settling any
>philosophical disputes.  I'm just saying that when someone makes up a
>name for something, they get the chance to make certain assertions
>about that thing.

Of course. As does everyone else. Once published, names can be used by anyone.

>The choice to use a name involves accepting the
>truth of those assertions.

What difference does it make to *you*, reading what I publish, 
whether or not *I* accept the truth of something? You are free to 
make up your own mind about what I say; you may accept some, all or 
none of it. Similarly for what I say I agree with. Nothing I can say 
can possibly prevent you from believing anything that anyone else 
publishes, or can force you to into accepting it if you decide not 
to. There are no conclusions you can draw from the fact that I assent 
to something that you could not draw already from that thing itself. 
All I can do is, as it were, gesture towards the source of the names 
I use, in the hope that you will find that gesture useful. But the 
urirefs already do the gesturing: we don't need to say anything more 
about that.

>This is in spirit of what the editor's draft of the Concepts document
>already says -- I'm just trying to make sure people understand the
>complete ramificiations of this view and trying to find engineering
>ways of making those ramifications acceptable.

I think you impute far too much ramification to what is said there.

>  One of the most
>unfortunate ramifications is that term-reusers have to accept all the
>assertions in the "definition" whether they are "definitional" or not,
>because we can't really distinguish between the two.

No, they do not, and we should not say that they do.

Pat
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Received on Friday, 25 October 2002 18:16:02 GMT

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