Cool Logic

Ilaria Canavotto (ILLC)

Where are norms in deontic logic? Here they are!

March 23rd at 18:00, in F1.15

When we do deontic logic, our main aim is to come up with a logical system suitable to capture normative concepts, like those of prescription and permission. Standard deontic logic models these concepts in terms of ideality, where what is deontically ideal depends on specific philosophical intuitions. The idea is then that something is prescribed just in case it is necessary to realize an ideal state, while it is permitted just in case it does not prevent us from realizing an ideal state. Fair enough, but, we may wonder, shouldn't normative concepts be somehow connected with norms and normative systems? Despite the answer seems clearly to be “yes”, the last sixty years of research has shown that the way to formulate a satisfactory logic of norms can be pretty tortuous. To mention some of the most serious issues, how can we account for the fact that norms direct rather than describe? How can we represent norms as consisting of prescriptions in conditional rather than categorical form? Can we model the fact that only enforced norms are sources of obligation? Is there a relation between norms and ideality? In this talk, I will introduce these fundamental problems and present a new logic of norms designed to address them. I will conclude by showing how this new system can be used to overcome the well-known paradox of contrary to duty obligations.