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Re: URI for language identifiers

From: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 2003 10:38:27 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <20030401.103827.45263187.pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
To: miles@milessabin.com
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org

From: Miles Sabin <miles@milessabin.com>
Subject: Re: URI for language identifiers
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 15:54:57 +0100

> Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote,
> [snip: lots of stuff I agree with]
> > For example, here is a view that I happen to subscribe to
> >
> > 	In any formal system, such as RDF, the denotation of a name
> > 	(including URI references as a special case) is left unspecified.
> > 	Statements in the formal system, including RDF statements, serve
> > 	only as constraints on that denotation.  Any agent (including
> > 	people) choose to believe certain statements, and thus every agent
> > 	can potentially have a different view of the denotation of any
> > 	particular name.
> Same here ... tho' I'd add (and I'd guess you'd agree) that denotations 
> can be imposed externally to the formal system in non-arbitrary ways 
> which means that it makes sense (again, externally to the formal 
> system) to describe arbitrary reassignments of denotations as 
> idiosyncratic. 

Agreed.  Intended meaning can be imposed from the outside.  Perhaps Patrick
wants to codify one particular version of intended meaning.  It actually
would be useful to expend some effort to see if there is anything useful
that could be done here.  (I thought that there was supposed to be some
effort along these lines as an outcome of certain discussions at the recent
W3C technical plenary, but nothing has happened yet.)  However, I expect
that there will be lots of heat generated in this area before any light

> For example reasonable people might differ about whether 
> "http://www.w3.org/" denotes an organization, a web site or a web page, 
> but asserting that it denotes the first poached egg consumed in Paris 
> would be ... umm ... peculiar ;-)

Again, agreed.  However, one of the aspects that I think would be required
from any codification of intended meaning would be that peculiarities
should not be forbidden, at least not completely forbidden, as what is
peculiar can change from time to time, as evidenced by the current
political machinations.

> Exactly how those external denotations come about is, of course, an 
> interminable puzzle in the philosophy of language ... but as far as I'm 
> concerned, any plausible answer has to accomodate both the use of the 
> term within a language community and some kind of quasi-causal 
> relationship between that use and the referent (ie. something midway 
> between Wittgenstein II and Kripke/Putnam).

Yes, again agreed.  The problem in its most-general form is extraordinarily
knotty.  Worse, some of the very knotty concerns arise in very common
settings.  Even more worse, trying to project the more-general situations
onto a simple formalism (like RDF or even first-order logic) ends up either
trivializing them or in logical absurdities.

> Cheers,
> Miles

Received on Tuesday, 1 April 2003 10:38:36 UTC

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