On what philosophical branches, schools of thought and concepts is Semantic Web based? Or, in other words, without which notions, theories and fields of philosophy one can't imagine Semantic Web?

Philosophy as a set of studies has various areas of inquiries. I can think that Semantic Web borrows from logic, epistemology, ontology. But on what exactly from logic (or whatever branch of philosophy) Semantic Web is based and to what degree?

(A variant of this question from historical point of view was asked on philosophy.StackExchange.com)

asked 10 Jan '13, 12:15

sindikat's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 11 Jan '13, 10:07

Disagreeing with lmatteis, I think philosophy had its share in informing the concepts of which semantic web is built. Whether it was more a positive or negative influence (i.e., what to avoid) is up for discussion.

A promising approach to get to the philoshophical roots of semantic web could be to track citations of philosophical writings appearing in papers from the domain of (semantic) web. For instance, one can go through some of the proceedings of the Philosophy of the Web Community Group, such PhiloWeb 2012 Proceedings and see that the thoughts on the semantic web go back to analytic philosophy and the likes such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Willard Van Orman Quine, Bertrand Russell or John Searle.

By the way, Tim Berners-Lee considers the Web as "philosophical engineering" (source).


answered 11 Jan '13, 05:10

jindrichm's gravatar image

accept rate: 28%

edited 11 Jan '13, 05:10

I doubt semantics has anything to do with philosophy. It just came as a need for computers to understand the data that exists on the web. It's an entirely logical process. In the context of the web it's just a way to organize things.


answered 10 Jan '13, 16:18

Luca%20Matteis's gravatar image

Luca Matteis
accept rate: 11%

A critical paper is Floridi, L. “Web 2.0 Vs. the Semantic Web: A Philosophical Assessment” (2009). There is a huge literature of ontology engineering that is heavily drawing from analytical philosophy, e.g.

Smith, Barry, and Christopher Welty. "Ontology: Towards a new synthesis." Formal Ontology in Information Systems. ACM Press, USA, pp. iii-x, 2001.


answered 11 Jan '13, 10:55

mulone's gravatar image

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edited 11 Jan '13, 12:06

I've read the paper before and found nothing relevant to the question. The paper is a criticism of Semantic Web in the same way "metacrap" is, but it doesn't connect Semantic Web to various sub-fields of epistemology, metaphysics, logic or whatever philosophical branch.

(11 Jan '13, 11:56) sindikat sindikat's gravatar image

I guess you're right. I've updated my answer.

(11 Jan '13, 12:04) mulone mulone's gravatar image
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Asked: 10 Jan '13, 12:15

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Last updated: 11 Jan '13, 12:06