W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-logic@w3.org > August 2001

Re: SW, meaning and reference

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 14:03:17 -0700
Message-Id: <v0421010eb7b5aa75f1a4@[]>
To: "Seth Russell" <seth@robustai.net>
Cc: www-rdf-logic@w3.org
>From: "Dan Brickley" <danbri@w3.org>
> > [[
> > ...
> > Before I could start on that project, however, there was a prior question
> > to be confronted. If the goal was to produce a correct theory of
>reference, I would have to
> > get clear on what it is that makes a theory of reference correct or
> > incorrect. What exactly are the facts that a correct theory of reference
>is supposed
> > to capture? And how can we find out whether a theory has succeeded in
> > capturing those facts?
>The more agents can meet their goals using a theory of reference, the more
>"correct" that  theory is.

Fair point. But when some of those agents live only as software, but 
others (us) live in the real world where some of the referents are 
located also, it gets nontrivial both to say what the goals are, and 
how to tell if they have been met. What does it even mean to say that 
a software agent refers to something concrete, for example? One might 
say that this is like talking about a blind person seeing something. 
There is a sense in which that does, in fact, make sense, but its not 
a simple as it would be when talking about someone with real sight.

> > While I could imagine someone setting out to redescribe URIs in terms of
> > an initial 'GroundingEvent' or 'NamingEvent', and (say) a
> > causal-historical account of naming, I wouldn't join a W3C Working Group
> > attempting such a thing if you paid me! Meanwhile, as you say, ecommerce
> > will surely happen regardless. So I'm not spreading doom and gloom; just
> > claiming that reference is the weak spot when we come to formalise the
> > 'semantic' web.
>Why formalize it at all ?  Why not just start making mechinisms that work ..
>may the best theory win.

Making mechanisms is one way to do the formalizing. Programs are 
formal, just like axioms. In the case of the SW, 'formal' often means 
'useable by software', in fact.

>Logic is great, survival better :)

But poor reasoners get eaten more easily than good ones, which is 
probably why evolution gave us big-headed apes such a comparatively 
good time.

Pat Hayes

(650)859 6569 w
(650)494 3973 h (until September)
Received on Friday, 31 August 2001 17:44:54 UTC

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