Semantics, Hermenutics, Statistics: Some Reflections on the Semantic Web

Proceedings of HCI2011 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

We start with the ambition -- dating back to the early days of the semantic web -- of assembling a significant portion human knowledge into a contradiction-free form using semantic web technology. We argue that this would not be desirable, because there are concepts, known as essentially contested concepts, whose definitions are contentious due to deep-seated ethical disagreements. Further, we argue that the ninetenth century hermeneutical tradition has a great deal to say, both about the ambition, and about why it fails. We conclude with some remarks about statistics.

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