Norm Performatives and Deontic Logic

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 7 (2):83-105 (2011)
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Deontic logic is standardly conceived as the logic of true statements about the existence of obligations and permissions. In his last writings on the subject, G. H. von Wright criticized this view of deontic logic, stressing the rationality of norm imposition as the proper foundation of deontic logic. The present paper is an attempt to advance such an account of deontic logic using the formal apparatus of update semantics and dynamic logic. That is, we first define norm systems and a semantics of norm performatives as transformations of the norm system. Then a static modal logic for norm propositions is defined on that basis. In the course of this exposition we stress the performative nature of (i) free choice permission, (ii) the sealing legal principle and (iii) the social nature of permission. That is, (i) granting a disjunctive permission means granting permission for both disjuncts; (ii) non-prohibition does not entail permission, but the authority can declare that whatever he does not forbid is thereby permitted; and (iii) granting permission to one person means that all others are committed to not prevent the invocation of that permission.


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