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Keywords:

  • deontic logic;
  • preference logic;
  • modal logic;
  • dynamic logic;
  • contrary-to-duty;
  • norm change

Abstract

This article proposes a systematic application of recent developments in the logic of preference to a number of topics in deontic logic. The key junction is the well-known Hansson conditional for dyadic obligations. These conditionals are generalized by pairing them with reasoning about syntactic priority structures. The resulting two-level approach to obligations is tested first against standard scenarios of contrary-to-duty obligations, leading also to a generalization for the Kanger-Anderson reduction of deontic logic. Next, the priority framework is applied to model two intuitively different sorts of deontic dynamics of obligations, based on information changes and on genuine normative events. In this two-level setting, we also offer novel takes on vexed issues such as the Chisholm paradox and modelling strong permission. Finally, the priority framework is shown to provide a unifying setting for the study of operations on norms as such, in particular, adding or deleting individual norms, and even merging whole norm systems in different manners.