A Skeptical Theory of Inheritance in Nonmonotonic Semantic Networks

John F. Horty, Richmond H. Thomason, David S. Touretzky

This paper describes a new approach to inheritance reasoning in semantic networks allowing for multiple inheritance with exceptions. The approach leads to a definition of inheritance that is both theoretically sound and intuitively attractive: it yields unambiguous results applied to any acyclic semantic net, and these results conform to our own intuitions in the cases in which the intuitions themselves are firm and unambiguous. Since, however, the definition provided here is based on an alternative, skeptical view of inheritance reasoning, it does not always agree with previous definitions when it is applied to nets about which our intuitions are unsettled, or in which different reasoning strategies could naturally be expected to yield distinct results.

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