A Defeasible Calculus for Zetetic Agents

10/11/2020 ∙ by Jared Millson, et al. ∙ 0

The study of defeasible reasoning unites epistemologists with those working in AI, in part, because both are interested in epistemic rationality. While it is traditionally thought to govern the formation and (with)holding of beliefs, epistemic rationality may also apply to the interrogative attitudes associated with our core epistemic practice of inquiry, such as wondering, investigating, and curiosity. Since generally intelligent systems should be capable of rational inquiry, AI researchers have a natural interest in the norms that govern interrogative attitudes. Following its recent coinage, we use the term "zetetic" to refer to the properties and norms associated with the capacity to inquire. In this paper, we argue that zetetic norms can be modeled via defeasible inferences to and from questions—a.k.a erotetic inferences—in a manner similar to the way norms of epistemic rationality are represented by defeasible inference rules. We offer a sequent calculus that accommodates the unique features of "erotetic defeat" and that exhibits the computational properties needed to inform the design of zetetic agents. The calculus presented here is an improved version of the one presented in Millson (2019), extended to cover a new class of defeasible erotetic inferences.

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