Logical Semantics and Norms: A Kantian Perspective

Sérgio Mascarenhas


It’s widely accepted that normativity is not subject to truth values. The underlying reasoning is that truth values can only be predicated of descriptive statements; normative statements are prescriptive, not descriptive; thus truth value predicates cannot be assigned to normative statements. Hence, deonticity lacks logical semantics. This semantic monism has been challenged over the last decades from a series of perspectives that open the way for legal logics with imperative semantics. In the present paper I will go back to Kant and review his understanding of practical judgments, presenting it as supported by a pluralistic semantics. From this perspective a norm of Law is a logical expression that includes as content a generic description of a possible behavior by a generality of juridical agents, and assigns to that content the assertion of its obligatory character, accompanied by a disincentive for non-compliance. From this perspective legal norms can be syntactically formalized and assigned appropriate semantic values in such terms that they can be incorporated into valid inferential schemes. The consequence is that we can put together legal logics that handle both the phenomenal and the deontic dimensions of legality.


Kant; legal norm; logical semantics; legal logic; imperative semantics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Phe_Mi-22437

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