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Reasoning Tools for Deontic Logic and Applications to Indian Sacred Texts


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.

Project information

Project Title

Reasoning Tools for Deontic Logic and Applications to Indian Sacred Texts

Principal investigator

Agata Ciabattoni
Vienna University of Technology

Project Partner

Elisa Freschi
Austrian Academy of Science

Funding organization

WWTF Vienna Science and Technology Fund


48 Months (+18), starting date 15.05.2017