Re: Refers Or Denotes?

On 2/13/13 9:23 AM, Adrian Pohl wrote:
> Are "denote" and "refer to" really used synonymously in philosophy? As
> far as I remember, "refer to" is used only with reference to proper
> names while "denote" is also used regarding the extension of a predicate
> (in RDF that would be the relation between an rdfs:Class and its
> instances). Thus, in the context of WebID I'd prefer using "refer to".
> Or does a predicate refer to the objects in its extension?
> - Adrian

The problem is this:

A WebID is an HTTP URI that denotes an Agent. It leverages 5-star Linked 
Data publishing principles.

An HTTP URI, in the context of Linked Data, possesses a critical duality 
that typically leads to confusion via ambiguity. The aforementioned 
duality is as follows:

1. HTTP URI denotes an Entity (a Thing)
2. HTTP URI identifies a Web Resource -- Web accessible data (the 
content of Web documents).

The net effect of the above, is that a URI (a denotation that might not 
necessarily identify any Web resource) resolves to Data via an Address 
(URL which always denotes a Web resource). Put differently, you have a 
two paths to the same data in the form of a Name and an Address. The 
pattern in question is as old as computing itself, our challenge is to 
not fall foul of the "simply simple" approach to a "deceptively simple" 

We cannot paper over the fact that (in the context of Linked Data) we 
are dealing Names and Web Resource Addresses. Every time that happens, 
we results will be the same i.e., lots of distracting confusion that are 
vectors for unproductive permathreads.

RDF doesn't have to deal with the issue above because RDF and RDF based 
Linked Data aren't the same thing. Thus, "denotes" or "refers to" being 
treated as synonyms doesn't have problematic consequences in the case of 
RDF as it does when dealing with RDF based Linked Data.




Kingsley Idehen 
Founder & CEO
OpenLink Software
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Received on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 16:38:53 UTC