Approaches to Legal Ontologies

Volume 1 of the series Law, Governance and Technology Series pp 69-81


A Cognitive Science Perspective on Legal Ontologies

  • Joost BreukerAffiliated withLeibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam Email author 
  • , Rinke HoekstraAffiliated withLeibniz Center for Law, University of AmsterdamAI Department, VU University

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We can trace five origins of ontology engineering, and all five still play a major role in ontology engineering. Each of these roots gives a different perspective on content and use of ontologies. Philosophical ontology is concerned with “reality”; Information science with systematic terminology; Artificial Intelligence (AI) with terminological knowledge, Knowledge Engineering with the specification of knowledge bases, and Information Management with semantics. Associated with these roots, the applications differ and range from analytic clarification to automated reasoning. Also mismatches between formalism and aim occur frequently. These mismatches can often be traced to an unclear distinction between knowledge and semantics. We explain this difference in Section 4.3 using a simple cognitive architecture for natural language production. A Cognitive Science perspective is however well suited where top ontologies try to cover the core concepts of common sense, as a wealth of empirical studies have become available on the content of our “knowledge instincts”. We present an example on the modeling of spatial concepts and refer to our still ongoing work on a common-sense based core ontology for legal domains: LKIF-Core (Hoekstra et al. 2007; Hoekstra 2009).