Knowledge representation, the World Wide Web, and the evolution of logic

Synthese 182 (2):269-295 (2011)
It is almost universally acknowledged that first-order logic (FOL), with its clean, well-understood syntax and semantics, allows for the clear expression of philosophical arguments and ideas. Indeed, an argument or philosophical theory rendered in FOL is perhaps the cleanest example there is of “representing philosophy”. A number of prominent syntactic and semantic properties of FOL reflect metaphysical presuppositions that stem from its Fregean origins, particularly the idea of an inviolable divide between concept and object. These presuppositions, taken at face value, reflect a significant metaphysical viewpoint, one that can in fact hinder or prejudice the representation of philosophical ideas and arguments. Philosophers have of course noticed this and have, accordingly, sought to alter or extend traditional FOL in novel ways to reflect a more flexible and egalitarian metaphysical standpoint. The purpose of this paper, however, is to document and discuss how similar “adaptations” to FOL—culminating in a standardized framework known as Common Logic —have evolved out of the more practical and applied encounter of FOL with the problem of representing, sharing, and reasoning upon information on the World Wide Web.
Keywords first-order logic  World Wide Web  knowledge representation
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9661-2
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