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Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 43–102 | Cite as

Situated legal systems and their operational semantics

  • Antônio Carlos da Rocha CostaEmail author
Article

Abstract

This work adopts H. Kelsen’s concept of legal system, proposes a formal definition for such notion, and introduces an operational semantical framework for legal systems that are (structurally and operationally) situated in agent societies. Agent societies are defined. Relevant formal properties of situated legal systems (action-based dynamics; orthogonality between the operational semantics and the processes of legal reasoning and decision-making; validity of norms; and completeness) are discussed; the way they are exposed in the operational semantical framework is explained, and their truth formally proved. Also, for the sake of a better understanding of the legal-theoretic assumptions of the paper, recurring issues regarding Kelsen’s theory of law (namely, his “positivism”, the attribution of a plain deductive nature to legal reasoning and decision-making, and the notions of basic norm, authorization, and discretion) are briefly reviewed. They are put in confrontation with the points of view of R. Dworkin, H. Hart, and J. Raz, and an attempt is made to clarify them from the perspective of the provided formalization. A brief case study in agent-based modeling and simulation of public policy processes is presented, as an illustration of the way of using situated legal systems, and the proposed operational semantical framework, in a practical application.

Keywords

Situated legal systems Kelsen’s theory of legal systems Agent societies Operational semantics of situated legal systems Formal analysis of the Kelsen-Dworkin-Hart-Raz debate 

Notes

Acknowledgments

To Maria Francisca Carneiro, who first introduced me to the logical problems of law. CAPES, FAPERGS and CNPq provided partial financial support for this work. The author is grateful to the anonymous referees, for their careful review of the first version of the paper, and for their most useful criticisms and suggestions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Computação, Centro de Ciências ComputacionaisUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande (FURG)Rio GrandeBrazil

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