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The Paradoxes of Deontic Logic Revisited: A Computer Science Perspective

By J.-J.Ch. Meyer, R. J. Wieringa, F. P. M. Dignum, F. P. M. Dignum and R. J. Wieringai


this paper we revisit the infamous paradoxes which have plagued deontic logic throughout its history / development. Deontic logic may be described as the logic of prohibitions, permissions and obligations. A better description of deontic logic is the logic of ideal (according to certain norms) versus actual behaviour. The paradoxes in this field are logical expressions that are valid in a (or even most) well-known logical system(s) for deontic reasoning, but which are counterintuitive in a common-sense reading (cf. [/qv84], Section II). Of course, matching theorems and intuitions is a general problem of measuring a logic (or even more generally, a formal approach) against the purpose it was devised for. (This is sometimes called the validation problem.) But it is remarkable that in the realm of deontic logic these problems appear to be much more serious and persistent through the years than in, for instance, other modal logics such as temporal and epistemic logics. Some of these paradoxes appear and re- appear again in the literature for several decades now without the community of researchers seemingly arriving at a consensus. What is even more surprising is the relative simplicity of the paradoxes. Most of them can be explained to a complete layman in deontic logic in a couple of minutes. Yet they have been haunting deontic logicians for many years now. To mention some of the best known ones: - Ross's Paradox: ought-to-mail-a-letter implies ought-to-mail-a-letter-or-bum_i

Year: 1994
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