The Logic of Interdisciplinary Appropriation and the Appropriation of Logic: The Case of Interrogative Logic and Information Science
The logic of questions and of querying has been a central part of information science for decades. Interrogative (or erotetic) logics were developed during the flowering of interest in philosophical logic and formal systems in the 1950s and the early 1960s. This development was in part due to the attempt by logicians to extend the “intellectual project” of non-classical logic into new domains of investigation in the analysis of language. Within the field of interrogative logics, there can be identified two major areas: 1) formal properties and representational aspects of these logics and 2) pragmatic/normative considerations. With respect to the first of these, the function/argument form found in predicate logic became quickly assimilated into query languages and the formal aspects of information retrieval. The second of these were assimilated into the information science community more slowly. For example, the early work of David Harrah provided specifications and desiderata for communication models of information seeking. These pragmatic concerns became paramount only with the development of the field of Human-Computer Interaction in the 1980s. The appropriation of interrogative logic by the information retrieval community reveals two themes which are important not only for the sociology of knowledge and of information, but also for a contemporary understanding of computer and information science. First, from a historical perspective, it appears that the ability to represent information effectively via formal logic takes precedence over the normative and pragmatic challenges posed by logic. Second, with the emerging areas of software and knowledge engineering, the pragmatic dimension will command greater attention by the computer community than it has in the past. This talk will explore aspects of these themes within the context of interdisciplinary development.
Keywords: Logic of Questions, Information Retrieval, Philosophy of Information, Interdisciplinary Development, Knowledge-Based Disciplines
Director, Information Science Program