Re: Refers Or Denotes?

Traditionally, reference is understood as the relation between a name and  
a referent while denotation is used for the objects that satisfy a concept  
(Frege's Wertverlauf, corresponding to "extensions", though this term  
itself has a long history!).

The distinction is made very clear in Russell's philosophy especially  
against Meinong and his theory that whatever you point at (typically with  
a name) is an object, whether existent, non-existent, impossible, etc.


Le Tue, 12 Feb 2013 21:58:03 +0100, Henry Story <>  
a écrit:

> A question that came up on the WebID mailing list. We'd just like some 
> clarification
> for the use of denotes, as the issue has come up there.
> On 11 Feb 2013, at 21:37, Kingsley Idehen <> wrote:
>> Henry / Andrei,
>> I current see [ in 
>> ]
>> "A WebID is an HTTP URI which *refers* to an Agent (Person, 
>> Organization, Group, Device, etc.)."
>> But in the context of RDF based Linked Data, the RDF workgroup (after 
>> serious thought on this matter) [1] has opted to use what would equate 
>> to:
>> A WebID is an HTTP URI which *denotes* an Agent (Person, Organization, 
>> Group, Device, etc.).
>> The more we stick to definitions and terminology being used acrossother  
>> W3C groups the easier things will be (on the appreciation andadoption  
>> front) for WebID, over the long haul.
>> Links:
>> 1. 
>> .
>> 2. -- latest RDF 
>> 1.1 Concepts and Abstract Syntax edition .
> I am not sure why "denotes" is being taken up by the RDF group nowadays, 
> when most philosophy books and logic books tend to use the word "refer". 
> Most engineers use the word refer too on a daily basis.
> In fact it is quite clear from the RDF concepts text that the two words 
> are near synonymous, since what an IRI denotes is called its referent:
> [[
> Any IRI or literal denotes some thing in the universe of discourse.These  
> things are called resources. Anything can be a resource, including 
> physical things, documents, abstract concepts, numbers and strings; the 
> term is synonymous with “entity”. The resource denoted by an IRI is 
> called its referent,
> ]]
> I am ok with denotes. But we can also use referent according to that 
> text. So I don't think this is a very settled matter - given furthermore 
> that the above is not yet a final spec.
> I would like to know why this decision is being made though. Is thatjust  
> an aesthetic statement, or is there more behind it?
> Henry
>> --
>> Regards,
>> Kingsley IdehenFounder & CEO
>> OpenLink Software
>> Company Web:
>> Personal Weblog:
>> Twitter/ handle: @kidehen
>> Google+ Profile:
>> LinkedIn Profile:
> Social Web Architect


Responsable Recherche Web et Métadonnées à l'Institut de Recherche et  
d'Innovation du Centre Pompidou (IRI)
Doctorant en philosophie à Paris 1 (PHICO, EXeCO)
Collaborateur extérieur chez Inria - Projet DBpedia Francophone et  
SemanticPedia (Membre associé de l'EPI Wimmics, Centre de Recherche de  
Chercheur associé au CNAM (équipe Dicen-idf)

Co-chair du W3C Community Group "Philosophy of the Web"
Responsable du séminaire "Digital Studies & Metada Studies", 2012-2013  
(Ministère de la Culture, IRI)
Co-organisateur des "Rencontres du Web de données" au Centre Pompidou
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Received on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 21:12:29 UTC