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 on such statements requires deontic logic, a field that is relatively new and still in a process of development. 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 such statements as found in the Vedas, the sacred texts of so-called 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 Mīmāṃsā texts lending themselves to formal analysis, no study of Mīmāṃsā deontic texts using logical methods has ever been undertaken, and most of their specificities have remained unexplored. The main reason for this is that Sanskritists are usually not trained in mathematical logic, and untranslated (or uninterpreted) Mīmāṃsā texts are inaccessible to logicians.

Using our diverse competences, the project aims to extract the deontic logic presupposed by Mīmāṃsā authors and use it 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 logic, which we aim to define in a systematic and automated way starting from Hilbert-style systems. It is expected that these tools will also be useful in other areas, such as legal informatics or reasoning on machine ethics.

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Reports in the media

Indian sacred texts and the logic of computer ethics (29.01.2018)

Altindische Texte und die Logik der Computer-Ethik (29.01.2018)

Kann man Computern Ethik beibringen? (Die Presse, 03.02.2018)

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Project data