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Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics (1, 2, and 3), Ontology and Semiotics

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Chris Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 31 May 2006 17:18:29 -0500
Message-id: <20060531221829.GA70937@xxxxxxxx>
On Wed, May 31, 2006 at 05:26:29PM -0400, John Sowa wrote:
> Chris,
> As usual, I don't have any complaints about the technical
> points you made, but I would like to sound a cautionary
> note about what they "mean" -- to use an informal notion
> of meaning.
> CM> Semantics 3 of course [the meaning of English concepts]
> > says something about meaning, so it is, in my eyes, a genuine
> > notion of semantics, but it is so vague that it is difficult
> > to see how it could be useful.
> I certainly agree that it's vague, but sometimes it's all
> we have, and it's the usual starting point for any kind
> of planning or formal analysis.      (01)

Of course I agree, John, and I'm sensitive to the point through my own
experiences with constructing actual ontologies via interviews with
domain experts -- folks who typically know their areas of expertise up
and down but don't know a thing about formal logic.  I should have been
more careful to quality my remark about usefulness relative to tasks
like automated reasoning and ontology sharing and integration that act
upon ontologies that are already formalized.    (02)

> Semantics 2 (a Tarski- style model) only comes at the *end* of the
> planning, never the beginning.    (03)

Well, as far as actual ontology construction goes, by my lights model
theory is actually *prior* in the sense that it should have been worked
out as part of the KR system one is using.  An actual ontologist will
then use the KR language directly and generally having nothing whatever
to do with its model theory in practice, any more than an engineer will
have anything to do with the mathematical underpinnings of her
calculator.    (04)

Small point -- Tarski-style model theory was not Adrian's Semantics 2,
which had to do with (roughly) the conclusions that an automated
reasoner "should" draw give certain facts and rules.  In fact, by my
lights, his three notions of semantics made no room for model theory *at
all*.    (05)

-chris    (06)

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