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Re: incorporating constructs with no formal meaning (was ....)

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 14:46:33 -0600
Message-Id: <p05101403b89717079b9f@[]>
To: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Cc: webont <www-webont-wg@w3.org>
>From: Ora Lassila <daml@lassila.org>
>Subject: Re: Patel-Schneider Paradox ...
>Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 11:03:16 -0500
>>  Peter,
>>  >  > >3/ properties with no formal meaning
>>  >>
>>  >>  OK, so what? They have no meaning, you can do what you like. That's
>>  >>  not a problem.
>>  >
>>  >On the contrary, such constructs are endless sources of problems when they
>>  >occur in a specification.   Sure they cause no formal problems, but they do
>>  >cause the generation of considerable amounts of non-luminous warmth.
>>  Unfortunately, these properties with no formal meaning have a great
>>  *practical* value to implemetors of real-world systems. Maybe that is
>>  not of interest to you ;-)
>Well, it is not of interest to me as a designer of a language.  How can it
>be, if there is no impact on the language?

That reflects a rather narrow view of the role of a language 
designer, seems to me.

>I agree with you that properties with no formal meaning do have value.  But
>I don't see any more meaning to rdf:subject than to foo:child (at least in
>the formal part of RDF)

Right, but we've agreed that we aren't talking about the formal part, right?

>.  If RDF is going to include a vocabulary for
>statements, with no extra formal meaning for the constructs in this
>vocabulary, then why should RDF not include a vocabulary for people?

Several obvious answers, but chiefly that nobody is asking for that 
vocabulary, whereas there are people asking very loudly indeed for 
the reification vocabulary. BUt also because it is in a sense about 
the language itself, so (even if informally) refers to a domain which 
for which we have more responsibility than, say, people.

>As far as I can see, there are only two aspects to such an inclusion:
>1/ a hint that this vocabulary is the one to be used by everyone who wishes
>    to talk about statements (and/or statings)

Right, that is how I see it. Its only a hint, as you say. But 
sometimes all the world needs is for someone to say 'lets do it this 
way', and then they can just get on with the work and stop worrying 
about it. If there are hundreds of people, and who knows how many 
dollars, just waiting for the WG to say 'use this vocabulary, guys', 
then it seems churlish to refuse to do so on logical-aesthetic 

>  and
>2/ the elevation of the status of debates over this vocabulary to the same
>    status as debates over the constructs of the language that do have
>    meaning.

I would like to explicitly NOT do that, it to say loudly and clearly 
that while this is the recommended vocabulary, one should not assume 
that it means anything special as far as any in-house RDF is 


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Received on Monday, 18 February 2002 15:46:25 UTC

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