Normative statements, which involve concepts such as obligation and prohibition, are enormously important in a
variety of fields—from law and ethics to artificial intelligence.
Reasoning with and about them requires deontic logic, which is a quite recent area of research.
By contrast, for more than two millennia, one of the most important systems of Indian philosophy focused on analyzing
normative statements. Mīmāṃsā, as it is called, looks at these statements found in the Vedas,
the sacred texts of Hinduism, and interprets them by explaining precisely what course of action they require.
Despite this school's undeniable importance for many different areas, and despite the
rigorous structure of the Mīmāṃsā texts lending themselves to formal analysis, no study of the Mīmāṃsā
deontic using logical methods has ever been undertaken, and most of its specificities have remained unexplored.
The main reason for this is that
Sanskritists are usually not trained in mathematical logic, and the untranslated (or uninterpreted) texts are
inaccessible to logicians.
Using our diverse competences the project aims to extract the deontic logics presupposed by the Mīmāṃsā authors and use them to provide a better understanding of these classical philosophical and juridical texts. This analysis presupposes the introduction of mathematical and computer-based tools for deontic logics, which we aim to define in a systematic and automated way starting from Hilbert-style systems. The tools are expected to be useful also in other areas such as legal informatics or reasoning about machine ethics.
Reasoning Tools for Deontic Logic and Applications to Indian Sacred Texts
Vienna University of Technology
Austrian Academy of Science
48 Months, starting date 15.05.2017