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Research Graduate School of Philosophy PhD ceremonies

How knowledge affects obligations

A study on the logic of knowledge-based obligations
PhD ceremony:Mr X. (Xingchi) Su
When:September 29, 2022
Supervisors:dr. B.P. (Barteld) Kooi, prof. dr. L.C. (Rineke) Verbrugge, D. (Davide) Grossi, Prof
Where:Academy building RUG
How knowledge affects obligations

A doctor generally does not have an obligation to treat a person if the doctor does not know that he/she is ill. But when the doctor knows the person is ill, the doctor ought to treat him/her. So what we ought to do depends a lot on what we know at that moment. This thesis provides a logical formalization of the concept of knowledge-based conditional obligation which paraphrases `A ought to be achieved by an agent under the condition that he/she knows B'. This notion is characterized by a sound and strongly complete axiomatization in this thesis. Furthermore, the framework is dynamified in order to show how knowledge change affects obligation change. Accordingly, those situations where agents' obligations are updated by their dynamic information can be modelled. Besides information change, norm change may also lead to new obligations. The notion of relativized conditional obligations is proposed for conceptualizing obligations induced by different normative systems. Several types of updates on normative systems are studied. They bring about new obligations or defeat original obligations in different ways.  In the final chapters, this thesis jumps out of the approach of `ought-to-be' obligations and conceptualizes the notion of knowledge-based `ought-to-do' obligation based on dynamic epistemic logic. The basic idea of defining this notion is that an action ought to be done if and only if the action always improves the initial situation to a better situation. A sound and strongly complete axiom system is also established.