Re: terminating 'imports' loops

From: pat hayes (
Date: 03/23/01

>pat hayes wrote:
> >      While I've got your attention on this
> >      subject... I think I first ran into it
> >      as 'Assertion of another document'
> >      in TimBL's semantic web toolbox.
> >
> >
> >      In my attempts to formalize it,
> >
> > Ah. I wouldnt try to formalise it in the assertional language 
>itself, since its really about the process of making assertions 
>rather than about truth.
>So much for getting your attention on the subject...
>I intend to formalize the process of making assertions;
>i.e. web protocols.

I agree that is worth doing. I was only saying that I wouldnt try to 
formalize them in the same language you are using them in, is all. 
That is, it would probably be better to try to keep the language 
which is asserted, and the language which is saying things about the 
assertions,  separate from each other, at least at first, and once 
you have that clear, see what happens if you try to smurge them 
together. Kind of like using mental scaffolding, rather than walking 
on the bricks while the mortar is wet.

I also want to formalize web protocols, but I'm going to try to do it 
by creating an ontology of web events first, rather than go looking 
for a new logic. For example, making an assertion is more like an 
action than a sentence. Which means in turn that no matter how 
decorated the logical sentences get (tagging and so on) , as long as 
they are always sentences, they will never get to be assertions. If 
asserting P is somehow *described* by the sentence 'assert:P', then 
something still has to assert *that* sentence in order to get 
something actually done. Sentences by themselves never wake up and 
get asserted until something asserts them. So there seems to be an 
essential gap between the actual performance of something - whether 
its making an assertion or digging a ditch - and a description of 
that performance in a sentence. The link has to be something like: 
the description is true iff the action was done (at the time 
specified, by the agent specified, etc., whatever). Now, that "true" 
back there is good oldfashioned logical truth in an interpretation, 
so what we need here isnt a new logic, but a way to ground assertions 
in the intended world of web actions. Its grounding, not reification, 
that we need here. Plus of course some language to do the 
action-describing in, which I suspect will be pretty minimal; I bet 
we could do it as a DAML+OIL ontology, in fact.

>Perhaps not today; but we did talk about getting into
>tagged logic or whatever it takes to formalize this stuff, no?
>Ah yes... I see JimH has the ball...
>tagging and other forms of well-behaved reification. ACTION (Jeff
>     Jim Hendler): write up SHOE experience.

Yeh, exactly. There are sentences being asserted, and there are tags. 
One day someone will have to worry about what happens when a tag can 
tag a tag and one of them says something about itself which 
contradicts what it says in the very act of doing the saying, or some 
other vanishing-down-rabbithole type stuff happens; but deal with 
that later, would be my intuition.

I'd be very interested in any other ideas you have in this area, by the way.

Pat (Offline most of next week)

PS. If I understand tagging, it it needn't involve reification at 
all. You don't need to *describe* a sentence in order to attach a tag 
to it, you can just kind of point at it by ostention. And in any 
case, reification doesnt get you into the 
sentence/assertion-of-the-sentence distinction, which I think is 
where one wants to be here. (Maybe I don't really understand tagging, 
of course.)

PPS. Dan, do you agree that the ref document ought to say something 
about how to make sense of the situation where A imports B and B 
imports A ? I tried to make it as neutral as possible, but there is 
no way we can legislate against this happening.

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