What Do You Mean? Arguing for Meaning

AutoreTom M. Van Engers - Adamwyner
CaricaProfessor in Legal Knowledge Management at the University of Amsterdam - Research Associate at University of Liverpool, Department of Computer Science.
What Do You Mean? Arguing for Meaning
SUMM ARY:1. Introduction – 2. Using CNL for Policy-making Discussions – 3. Con-
ceptualization Issues in Arguments – 4. Conclusions and Future Work
Building ontologies has proven to be a complex issue in part because a
community must commit to the conceptualization that the ontology rep-
resents. The community members must align their concepts and co-create.
Arguing about a useful conceptualization is therefore an essential part of the
process of designing an ontology. The creation of ontologies is usually done
in small teams as part of informal knowledge engineering activities where
participants discuss the conceptualization. Except where a minority has dis-
cretionary power to def‌ine the concepts, such a formatis not suited for creat-
ing shared meaning between members of a larger community. However, in
practice, people can cope with the task. For instance, where someone mis-
understands, clarifying questions are asked and explanations given. Thus,
the shared conceptualisation emerges from discussion; arguing about a use-
ful conceptualization is an intrinsic part of communication. While it is not
always easy for human beings to acknowledge and adjust to a different con-
ceptualization, the problems of detecting conceptual differences and creating
reconceptualizations are problems which are hard to solve in AI.
While one might expect that logicians working at formal theories on ar-
gumentation would have addressed the problems of conceptualization, thus
far little attention has been paid to combining formal argumentation with
conceptualization. Instead, argumentation theories focus on arguments
based on propositional logic, which is not f‌ine-grained enough to argue
about domain conceptualization.
Computational linguists have made signif‌icant progress in building on-
tologies from sentences expressed in natural languages. In order to address
the hard AI problem of understanding natural language, researchers in this
T.M. van Engers is Professor in Legal Knowledge Management at the University of
Amsterdam; A. Wyner is Research Associate at University of Liverpool, Department of
Computer Science. The Authors wish to thank the European Commission for sponsoring
the IMPACT project.

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