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Re: What do the ontologists want

From: Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 19:01:15 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Cc: www-rdf-logic@w3.org
At 10:44 AM 5/15/01 -0500, pat hayes wrote:
>>'Jon says "The sky is blue."' ?
>It is logically exotic, if I may be forgiven the terminology, since it 
>refers to a sentence by ostention, rather than by denotation. Actually, 
>even this is relatively harmless, as long as you simply quote. However, in 
>order to be useful, one usually has to be able to move between a quoted 
>sentence or expression and the use of that sentence or expression as part 
>of the language itself, and this 'reflexion' is what is really arcane and 
>tricky. Simple quotation is relatively harmless, I concede, but largely 
>useless: it is simply a way of referring to character strings.
>For example, would you want to be able to infer, from your example, that 
>Jon said that the sky is blue? It doesnt follow from it, however, unless 
>you provide some machinery to de-quote a quoted string. Seems to me that 
>the latter is much more useful than the former: the relationship between 
>an agent and the *content* of what they say is more interesting, usually, 
>than the relationship between the agent and the *form of character 
>strings* that they use (except of course when the mapping between form and 
>meaning is central to the discussion, as it is in some legal settings; but 
>again, this seems exotic for our purposes.) To refer to the content of an 
>expression, however, one does not quote it: one simply uses it.

Something that I very much wish to be able to do is something like this:

   'Jon says "The sky is blue"'
   'I believe Jon'
   'I believe (the sky is blue)'


   'Jon says "The sky is blue"'
   'My oracle says "Jon is reliable"'
   'The sky is blue'

I've deliberately not tried to state this rigorously, as I'd probably miss 
the mark if I did.  I hope the general intent is reasonably clear.

Maybe there is a way of formulating this that doesn't rely on logical 
exotica.  But it does seem to rely on some form of "reflexion" -- a 
statement is used both as an object about which other statements are made, 
and as an assertion in its own right.


Graham Klyne
Received on Tuesday, 15 May 2001 15:55:27 UTC

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