Projects in Previous Years

1st Semester 2015/16: Contrary-to-Duty Obligations

Roberto Ciuni
If you are interested in this project, please contact the instructor by email.
This project revolves around contrary-to-duty obligations in deontic logic (CTDs), that is, obligations that tell us what we ought to do when we violate some obligations that are taken as primary. In particular, the project focuses on two major approaches that are able to model CTDs and give a full-fledged understanding of the phenomenon at the same time. These are: (1) dynamic approaches to CTDs (and deontic notions) that (a) evaluate static deontic formulas on a betterness relation over states and (b) view CTDs as situations where the holding (or disclosure) of an initial violation changes the set of states available for evaluating deontic statements, and (2) defeasible logics that (a) evaluate deontic statements on a set of ideal states (or an ideality order over states) and (b) view primary obligations as norms that are in force only as long as some normal condition holds.

In doing this, the project crosses an array of trends and tools from deontic logics, such as (1) the application of preorders (preference relations, ideality orders) to the formal understanding of deontic notions; (2) conditional obligations vs obligations involving conditionals; (3) the opposition between a semantical focus and a proof-theoretic focus in the formal approach to deontic notions.

The course will be a mixture of introductory lectures by the instructor (two meetings), discussion sessions (five to six meetings), presentations by the students (one to two meetings). The introductory lectures will give a short overview of deontic logic and CTDs. The discussion sessions will revolve around five or six selected papers that are relevant for the two approaches that are the focus of the project. The presentations are conceived as a chance to check basic lines, methodology and content of the papers that will be submitted for the final grade, and they will give a chance to receive feedback and insights before submitting the paper.
Basics of modal logic (syntax and semantics).
Students will be evaluated on a short written report. The written report should provide either a survey of some of the literature with a new perspective or some (small) original result. Students are expected to actively participate in all class discussions.