LogiCIC/LIRa session: Rohit Parikh

On November 22, Rohit Parikh will give a joint LogiCIC/LIRa talk.
Everyone is cordially invited!

Speaker: Rohit Parikh (Brooklyn College of CUNY and CUNY Graduate Center)
Title: Epistemic Logic in Real Life and Literature
Room: Science Park 904, room D1.113
Time: Thursday, 22 November, 15:30-17:30

Abstract: In his book Commodities and Capabilities, Amartya Sen points out that
our well being depends not only on what we have, but also on what our capabilities are, to achieve goals which we value.  But to achieve such goals, while we ourselves write and carry out the procedures, society serves as an operating system which implements the individual steps and provides appropriate subroutines.  This role of society can be analyzed by standard logical techniques, e.g. Hoare Logic.

At a social rather than an individual level, when a planner wants people to act according to some socially desirable plan, the planner needs to make sure that people acting in terms of their own desires, their beliefs, and their capabilities, act in concordance with the plan. Thus managing knowledge states becomes a crucial element of such a plan.  Enabling (or blocking) abilities can also be part of such a social plan.

We show how such managed knowledge states occur in the literature, giving examples from Shakespeare, Shaw, etc.  We also present a technical result on creating knowledge states.

Finally we point to a remark by Socrates in Plato’s Theaetetus about the Justified True Belief  definition of knowledge.  Far from endorsing this definition, Socrates presents an objection, different from Gettier’s and anticipating a problem addressed by Turing in his
classical 1936 paper.  This objection of Socrates and our natural response to it bear on what we believe to be the ability of members of a society to carry out the individual steps of a personal algorithm.