Pragmatic Approaches to Supporting Reasoning Communities

Pragmatic Approaches to Supporting Reasoning Communities

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1818-3.ch008
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Apart from work toward developing ontologies, very little has been done towards developing highly structured reusable reasoning repositories that might support reasoning communities into the future. Pragmatic approaches that have been deployed are surveyed in this chapter. They include approaches for identifying types of problems, techniques for organising text, and approaches for facilitating the sharing of information.
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Apart from the work towards developing ontologies in many areas and the work to develop machine-readable knowledge bases in some domains there is currently very little done towards developing highly structured reusable reasoning repositories that might support reasoning communities into the future. Within academic reasoning communities, the literature (of academic disciplines) is large and there are periodic review articles that act to coalesce the knowledge. These academic repositories are almost universally in text. The approaches and tools that academics and technically focused groups use to approach reasoning are a mixture of document databases, bibliographic software tools and search engines. For more broadly based communities that are concerned with current important issues, the literature relevant to the issue seems to grow in ways that are influenced by factors other than reasoning. It is often not clear that the resolution of major issues is achieved in a way that values the broadest consideration of all relevant factors by a reasoning community that can adequately cover these relevant areas and do so in a way that allows all elements of a reasoning process to be represented as completely as they should be represented. The reality is that currently the reasoning on an issue is:

  • Initiated and carried out by a reasoning community that may or may not have the capacity or expertise to adequately cover all aspects that pertain to the issue

  • Assisted by using expert knowledge and search engines to collect a range of text documents relevant to the issue

  • Captured by the production of a range of text documents on various aspects of the issue

  • Likely to raise questions that require further investigation to provide answers that are needed in order to make decisions on the issue.

This reflects the natural tendency for individual reasoners to contribute their views and reasons in words, often as arguments in text or as narrative. A pragmatic approach would allow these contributions as text or narrative to be as free form as individuals within the community desire.

This chapter considers possible approaches using currently available technologies for supporting the reasoning community in accessing relevant knowledge, organising the knowledge, creating a community pool of reasons, and developing reasoned solutions in a less structured way than the techniques proposed earlier in this book.


Ill-Structured Problems

Ill-structured problems are those that require definition and understanding. For example most design problems would be ill-structured problems because there can be many criteria that the design should meet. The exact way in which it meets these criteria and provides a satisfactory solution to objectives that may be difficult to specify may allow a great range of possible solutions. How to commercialise some intellectual property or product of research also has many of the attributes of an ill-structured problem. Goals have to be set and given that the technology or product is new it may not be known precisely how markets will respond. The tools required for these problems would be a broader range of tools that encompass those used for well-structured problems but should also include tools that can assist in the structuring of the problem or the structuring of reasoning in the domain. These tools can include modelling and simulation tools to help develop, visualize and study possible scenarios.

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