Date: 08 Nov 2010

Empirically Grounded Developments of Legal Ontologies: A Socio-Legal Perspective

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This paper shows the multiple relationships between empirical data and semantic content in the legal field. One of the well-known problems of ontology construction is the “knowledge acquisition bottleneck problem” pointed out many years ago by Edward Feigenbaum and others. This problem has not been completely solved in the next generation of Semantic Web developments. It is our contention that both an accurate description of the legal environment and well-grounded previous sociological studies may help to address it in a more satisfactory way. This means adopting a user-centered approach to legal ontologies, in what we will call an “iterative and integrated pragmatic cycle” involving legal theorists, socio-legal researchers, professional people (lawyers, magistrates, prosecutors…) and computer scientists. We describe the example of how the ontology of iuriservice was built up.