A Formalism for Nonmonotonic Reasoning Encoded Generics

Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin (2003)
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Abstract

This dissertation is intended to provide a formalism for those generics that trigger nonmonotonic inferences. The formalism is to reflect intentionality and exception-tolerating features of generics, and has an emphasis on the axiomatization of generic reasoning that encodes nonmonotonicity. ;A modal conditional approach is taken to formalize the nonmonotonic reasoning in general at the level of object language. A serial of logic systems---MN, NID, NCUM, N STCUM---are constructed in an increasing strength of the characterized nonmonotonic inference relation. In these systems, two binary modal operators ⩾ and > are introduced in their syntax, and a ⊛ function lifted from the traditional * function is deployed in their semantics. These systems are shown to be sound and complete with respect to certain classes of frames defined in the semantics. They are decidable as well. The nonmonotonic inference is argued to be a ternary relation "[phi], Gamma |∼ alpha", and is defined in the system NSTCUM. Many widely discussed nonmonotonic inference patterns such as Defeasible Modus Ponens, Defeasible Transitivity, the Penguin Principle etc. are justified. The specificity rule is proved to be a theorem of the system N STCUM. The impact of negated defaults on an inference is also investigated and accounted for. ;A canonical form to read off generics is proposed: All generic sentences with subject-predicate structure can be re-written into their canonical form S . If S is a plural noun phrase, it can be further refined to be . Normal objects are selected based on the "meaning" of the subject and predicate terms. The second parameter provides an aspect with respect to which certain objects of a kind are considered normal. Due to such a way to select normal objects, the drowning problem is solved. ;The inference behaviors of generics are axiomatized in the system G, which is a quantificational extension of the system NSTCUM. It is proved to be sound and complete with respect to the class of L⩾,G -frames. Those benchmark examples of generic inferences are examined in the system G

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Citations of this work

Four Semantic Layers of Common Nouns.Beihai Zhou & Yi Mao - 2010 - Synthese 175 (1):47 - 68.
Gödel’s Master Argument: What is It, and What Can It Do?David Makinson - 2015 - IfCoLog Journal of Logics and Their Applications 2 (2):1-16.
A Base Logic for Default Reasoning.Beihai Zhou & Yi Mao - 2006 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 1 (4):688-709.

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References found in this work

Circumscription — A Form of Non-Monotonic Reasoning.John McCarthy - 1980 - Artificial Intelligence 13 (1-2):27–39.
Generic Terms and Generic Sentences.Greg N. Carlson - 1982 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 11 (2):145 - 181.

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