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

Proceedings of HCI2011 (forthcoming)
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.
Keywords philosophy of computer science  hermeneutics  Schleiermacher  essentially contested concepts  semantic web
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