, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 237-261

A Logical Analysis of the Relationship between Commitment and Obligation

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Abstract

In this paper, we analyze the relationship between commitment and obligation from a logical viewpoint. The principle of commitment implying obligation is proven in a specific logic of action preference which is a generalization of Meyer's dynamic deontic logic. In the proposed formalism, an agent's commitment to goals is considered as a special kind of action which can change one's deontic preference andone's obligation to take some action is based on the preference and the effects of the action. In this logic, it is shown that an agent has the obligation to take any action which is necessary for achieving as many committed goals as possible. The semantics of our logic is based on the possible world models for the dynamic logic of actions. A binary preference relation between possible worlds is associated with the model. Then the preference between actions are determined by comparing that of their consequences. According to the semantics, while the preference will influence the agent's choice of action, commitment is a kind of action that will change the agent's preference. Thus we can show how obligations arise from commitments via updating of deontic preference. The integrated semantics make it possible to express and reason about the mutual relationship among these mental attitudes in a common logic.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.