Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

6/1/2005 - 5/31/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Reasoning with Normative Generalizations

FAIN: FA-50404-04

John F. Horty
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD 20742-5141)

The aim of this project is to explore the application of a new logical understanding of rules in normative theories, such as ethics and law. It is generally thought that the rules put forth in normative theories should conform to the standard logical treatment, according to which generalizations must be universally true. In recent years, however, a number of scholars have begun to study a new class of logics--known as "nonmonotonic logics"--in which rules can represent generalizations subject to exceptions. My goal is to develop a treatment of normative rules using these new techniques, and then to explore the application of the resulting account to three topics in normative theory: moral conflicts, prima facie obligations, and the nature of case-based legal reasoning. The project should have an interdisciplinary appeal, attracting ethicists and legal theorists as well as philosophical logicians.