Nonmonotonlc Inheritance and Generic Reflexives

David S. Touretzky, Richmond H. Thomason

Generic reflexive statements such as Elephants dove themselves have traditionally been formalized using some variant of predicate logic, with variables to mark coreferentiality. We present a radically different semantics for reflexives, based on nonmonotonic inheritance and an extension to Touretzky' s inferential distance ordering. Our system can derive new generic reflexive statements as well as statements about individuals. And unlike the leading predicate logic-based approaches, our formalism does not use variables; this brings it closer in structure to ac tual human languages. The significance of this work for AI is its demonstration of the benefits of a non-classical knowledge representation for analyzing commonsense reasoning phenomena.


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