Temporal Alethic Dyadic Deontic Logic and the Contrary-to-Duty Obligation Paradox

Daniel Rönnedal

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2017.012


A contrary-to-duty obligation (sometimes called a reparational duty) is a conditional obligation where the condition is forbidden, e.g. “if you have hurt your friend, you should apologise”, “if he is guilty, he should confess”, and “if she will not keep her promise to you, she ought to call you”. It has proven very difficult to find plausible formalisations of such obligations in most deontic systems. In this paper, we will introduce and explore a set of temporal alethic dyadic deontic systems, i.e., systems that include temporal, alethic and dyadic deontic operators. We will then show how it is possible to use our formal apparatus to symbolise contrary-to-duty obligations and to solve the so-called contrary-to-duty (obligation) paradox, a problem well known in deontic logic. We will argue that this response to the puzzle has many attractive features. Semantic tableaux are used to characterise our systems proof theoretically and a kind of possible world semantics, inspired by the so-called T× W semantics, to characterise them semantically. Our models contain several different accessibility relations and a preference relation between possible worlds, which are used in the definitions of the truth conditions for the various operators. Soundness results are obtained for every tableau system and completeness results for a subclass of them.


T × W logics; temporal logic; modal logic; dyadic deontic logic; semantic tableaux; conditional norms; contrary-to-duty obligations, the contrary-to-duty (obligation) paradox

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