May I toss a little pebble into the semantics pool?
Perhaps I have misunderstood the discussion but it appears
to concern the use of languages, especially forms of logic, to solve problems
You can do that with FOL provided that you are prepared to
deal only with the self-contained world to which it gives access. Kowalski and his PROLOG team at
Imperial College dismissed our work on semantics at the London School of
Economics. Another professor of
computer science, at about the same time, rebuked me for using the terms
‘ontology’ and ‘epistemology’ and warned me against falling into a
‘philosophical bog’. I’m worried
that most Otologgers belong in the same camp.
Kowalsik put it clearly on p.9 of his book “Logic for Problem
‘It follows that it is unnecessary to talk about meaning at
all. All talk about meaning can be
reexpressed in terms of logical implication.’
us this declared their retreat into either a world of pure symbol manipulation
or a rarefied Platonic reality accessible to some privileged minds.
Dealing with concrete business activity and legal problems,
we held the view that meanings are relationships between signs (logical or
other) and the physical things and social constructs that business information
and laws deal with. A tiny
fraction of our meaning relationships could be between signs (logical
expressions) and other signs but the great majority would be between signs and
many other things that exist in the real world, such as steel ingots or
culpable behaviour. Moreover those
relationships cannot be dreamed up anonymously by whoever reads the signs; but
they are supplied by the producers or interpreters of the signs / sentences /
reports / evidence / etc. who will be held responsible for their imputed
So: no semantics without ontology
and no semantics without responsible agents.
Of course we started with the usual objectivist view of
reality. But that does not work in
a legal context, among other things, because it omits the responsible agents.
I shall not attempt to explain the form of the actualist ontology
we employ but you may glean a little about it in the two papers on www.rstamper.co.uk.
For work on semantics, do we not need a kind of logic that
keeps the agents in the picture? one that starts from responsibility and
existence as primitives and then leads to truth and falsity as derived
concepts. I guess that it
will resemble FOL with a twist.