[Crm-sig] RDFS, XML and more

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Fri Sep 10 18:32:47 EEST 2021

Dear All,

I'd also like to point you to a subtle distinction which is very 
important for us:

Mark correctly states:

"If you declare rdfs:label a subproperty of P1 you are changing in fact 
the definition of rdfs:label and the definition of E41. This means you 
simply change the data on nearly the whole world without even having a 
glance at a single dataset."

This is the mathematical, model-theoretic point of view about what a 
*definition* is.

In contrast, we commit to Nicola Guarinos formulation, that the logical 
declarations of a formal ontology are an approximation of a 
conceptualization (rather than being it), trying to minimize "unintended 

Therefore, there exist textual *definitions* for all constructs of 
formal ontologies, in order to render the intended models. This is the 
ontological (philosophical, cognitive) point of view of what a 
definition is.

The CRM states for E41 Appellation:
"This class comprises signs, either meaningful or not, or arrangements 
of signs following a specific syntax, that are used or can be used to 
refer to and identify a specific instance of some class or category 
within a certain context."

  RDFS 1.1 states for rdfs:label:
"|rdfs:label| is an instance of |rdf:Property| that may be used to 
provide a human-readable version of a resource's name."

According to that, E41 constitutes a generalization of all *adequate 
uses* of rdfs:label, and indeed is intended to be so for all possible 
worlds. Methodologically, for CRM-SIG, the intended meaning has priority 
over preserving the formal definition in the sense Mark mentioned. This 
principle is also behind the formulation of the "conservative extension" 
in the CRM introduction.

Further, I want to express our particular gratitude to Mark Fichtner for 
creating the OWL implementations of the CRM and his careful semantic 
checking, which has been helping us a lot. When I mentioned automatic 
generation, I rather spoke about a utility making work easier, not a 
mechanism replacing manual scrutiny.

Finally, I would like to confirm, that no more constructs of this kind 
are intended, that it is not intended to introduce a new practice of 
this kind (please do not generalize and panick😂), and that indeed the 
rdfs:label problem and identifiers play an exceptional role in the 
ontology - schema transition.

All the best,


  Dr. Martin Doerr
  Honorary Head of the
  Center for Cultural Informatics
  Information Systems Laboratory
  Institute of Computer Science
  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl

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