ISKO Italy Open conference systems, Paradigms and conceptual systems in KO

Concepts, paradigms and knowledge organization

Birger Hjørland

Building: Main building
Room: Hall VI
Date: 2010-02-24 09:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Last modified: 2009-12-31


It is argued that concepts are the building blocks of knowledge organizing systems (KOS). Objections to this view are considered and answers are provided. By implication the theory of concepts constitutes the foundation for knowledge organization (KO). The theory of concepts is understood as related to and derived from theories of knowledge. Different theories of knowledge such as empiricism, rationalism, historicism and pragmatism imply different theories of concepts. Such different epistemologies and their associated theories of concepts represent different methodological ideals which probably compete in all knowledge domains. Different approaches to KO are also in fundamental ways associated with different theories of concepts. The paper holds that the historicist and pragmatic theory of concept should be considered most valuable. By implication is it is necessary to know about competing theories in the fields being organized. A further implication of the pragmatic view is that the construction of a KOS must be understood as a way of participating in the discourses in the domain that is being represented.