In this volume, John Horty brings to bear his work in logic to present a framework that allows for answers to key questions about reasons and reasoning, namely: What are reasons, and how do they support actions or conclusions?
Let us say that a normative conﬂict is a situation in which an agent ought to perform an action A, and also ought to perform an action B, but in which it is impossible for the agent to perform both A and B. Not all normative conﬂicts are moral conﬂicts, of course. It may be that the agent ought to perform the action A for reasons of personal generosity, but ought to perform the action B for reasons of prudence: perhaps (...) A involves buying a lavish gift for a friend, while B involves depositing a certain amount of money in the bank. In general, our practical deliberation is shaped by a concern with a variety of morally neutral goods—not just generosity and prudence, but any number of others, such as etiquette, aesthetics, fun—many of which are capable of providing conﬂicting reasons for action. I mention these ancillary values in the present setting, however, only to put them aside. We will be concerned here, not with normative conﬂicts more generally, but precisely with moral conﬂicts—situations in which, even when our attention is restricted entirely to moral reasons for action, it is nevertheless true that an agent ought to do A and ought to do B, where it is impossible to do both. (shrink)
This paper describes one way in which a precise reason model of precedent could be developed, based on the general idea that courts are constrained to reach a decision that is consistent with the assessment of the balance of reasons made in relevant earlier decisions. The account provided here has the additional advantage of showing how this reason model can be reconciled with the traditional idea that precedential constraint involves rules, as long as these rules are taken to be defeasible. (...) The account presented is firmly based on a body of work that has emerged in AI and Law. This work is discussed, and there is a particular discussion of approaches based on theory construction, and how that work relates to the model described in this paper. (shrink)
From a philosophical standpoint, the work presented here is based on van Fraassen . The bulk of that paper is organized around a series of arguments against the assumption, built into standard deontic logic, that moral dilemmas are impossible; and van Fraassen only briefly sketches his alternative approach. His paper ends with the conclusion that “the problem of possibly irresolvable moral conflict reveals serious flaws in the philosophical and semantic foundations of ‘orthodox’ deontic logic, but also suggests a rich set (...) of new problems and methods for such logic.” My goal has been to suggest that some of these methods might be found in current research on nonmonotonic reasoning, and that some of the problems may have been confronted there as well.I have shown that nonmonotonic logics provide a natural framework for reasoning about moral dilemmas, perhaps even more useful than the ordinary modal framework, and that the issues surrounding the treatment of exceptional information within these logics run parallel to some of the problems posed by conditional oughts. However, there is also another way in which deontic logic might benefit from a connection to nonmonotonic reasoning. A familiar criticism among ethicists of work in deontic logic is that it is too abstract, and too far removed from the kind of problems confronted by real agents in moral deliberation. It must be said that similar criticisms of abstraction and irrelevance are often lodged against work in nonmonotonic reasoning by more practically minded researchers in artificial intelligence; but here, at least, the criticisms are taken seriously. Nonmonotonic logic aims at a qualitative account of commonsense reasoning, which can be used to relate planning and action to defeasible goals and beliefs; and at least some of the theories developed in this area have been tested in realistic situations. By linking the subject of deontic logic to this research, it may be possible also to relate the idealized study of moral reasoning typical of the field to a more robust treatment of practical deliberation. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to explore a new deontic operator for representing what an agent ought to do; the operator is cast against the background of a modal treatment of action developed by Nuel Belnap and Michael Perloff, which itself relies on Arthur Prior's indeterministic tense logic. The analysis developed here of what an agent ought to do is based on a dominance ordering adapted from the decision theoretic study of choice under uncertainty to the present account of (...) action. It is shown that this analysis gives rise to a normal deontic operator, and that the result is superior to an analysis that identifies what an agent ought to do with what it ought to be that the agent does. (shrink)
Early attempts at combining multiple inheritance with nonmonotonic reasoning were based on straightforward extensions of tree-structured inheritance systems, and were theoretically unsound. In The Mathcmat~'cs of Inheritance Systcrns, or TMOIS, Touretzky described two problems these systems cannot handle: reasoning in the presence of true but redundant assertions, and coping with ambiguity. TMOIS provided a definition and analysis of a theoretically sound multiple inheritance system, accom-.
The result model of precedent holds that a legal precedent controls a fortiori cases—those cases, that is, that are at least as strong for the winning side of the precedent as the precedent case itself. This paper defends the result model against some objections by Larry Alexander, drawing on ideas from the field of Artificial Intelligence and Law in order to define an appropriate strength ordering for cases.
This paper points out some problems with two recent logical systems – one due to Prakken and Sartor, the other due to Kowalski and Toni – designedfor the representation of defeasible arguments in general, but with a specialemphasis on legal reasoning.
The purpose of this paper is to eÂ»tahlish some connections between precedent-based reasoning as it is studied in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Law, particularly in the work of Ashley, and two other fields: deontic logic and nonmonotonic logic. First, a deontic logic is described that allows lor sensible reasoning in the presence of conflicting norms. Second, a simplified version of Ashley's account of precedent-based reasoning is reformulated within the framework of this deontic logic. Finally, some ideas from the (...) theory of nonmonotonic inheritance are employed to show how Ashley's account might be elaborated to allow for a richer representation of the process of argumentation. (shrink)
This paper contributes to the foundations of a theory of rational choice for artiﬁcial agents in dynamic environments. Our work is developed within a theoretical framework, originally due to Bratman, that models resource-bounded agents as operating against the background of some current set of intentions, which helps to frame their subsequent reasoning. In contrast to the standard theory of rational choice, where options are evaluated in isolation, we therefore provide an analysis of situations in which the options presented to an (...) agent are evaluated against a background context provided by the agent’s current plans—commitments to future activities, which may themselves be only partially speciﬁed. The interactions between the new options and the background context can complicate the task of evaluating the option, rendering it either more or less desirable in context than it would have been in isolation. 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
The goal of a logic is to define a consequence relation between a set of formulas Γ and, in most cases, an individual formula A. This definition generally takes one of two forms. From a proof theoretic standpoint, A is said to be a consequence of Γ whenever there is a deduction of A from the set Γ, viewed as a set of premises; from a model theoretic standpoint, A is said to be a consequence of Γ whenever A holds (...) in every model that satisfies each formula in Γ. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to explore a new deontic operator for representing what an agent ought to do; the operator is cast against the background of a modal treatment of action developed by Nuel Belnap and Michael Perlo, which itself relies on Arthur Prior's indeterministic tense logic. The analysis developed here of what an agent ought to do is based on a dominance ordering adapted from the decision theoretic study of choice under uncertainty to the present account of (...) action. It is shown that this analysis gives rise to a normal deontic operator, and that the result is superior to an analysis that identi es what an agent ought to do with what it ought to be that the agent does. (shrink)