Hintikka's Interrogative Model of Inquiry: Achievements and Prospects
30-31 Jan 2012 Paris (France)


Erik Olsson (Lund) - Interrogative Belief Revision

The standard way of representing an epistemic state in formal philosophy is in terms of a set of sentences, corresponding to the agent’s beliefs, and an ordering of those sentences, reflecting how well entrenched they are in the agent’s epistemic state. It is argued that this wide-spread representational view is incapable of making certain crucial distinctions. It is proposed, as a remedy, that any adequate representation of epistemic states must also include as a part the agent’s research agenda, i.e. the list of questions that are open at any given point in time. This proposal is taken as the point of departure for a theory of interrogative belief revision. Starting with the theory outlined in Olsson and Westlund (2006), the talk discusses recent developments of these ideas by other Lund-based researchers, in particular the work of Sebastian Enqvist.

Sonja Smets (Amsterdam) - Learning by Questions and Answers: Belief Dynamics under Iterated Revision (Slides)


Kevin Kelly (Pittsburgh) - An Erotetic Theory of Empirical Simplicity and its Connection with Truth

The nature of simplicity and its relationship to truth are persistent problems in statistics, machine learning, and the philosophy of science. First, we propose an axiomatic theory of empirical simplicity that recovers a unique simplicity order in typical empirical problems, which are assumed to consist of a theory choice question (modeled as a partition over possible worlds) and a specication of possible information states (modeled as a topological basis). Simplicity emerges from topological relations that arise at the boundaries of the theories in the information space, so simplicity essentially involves both the question and the information space. Next, we use the properties of simplicity to show that Ockham's razor is the most deductive of the inductive procedures that answer the question under discussion. Optimal deductiveness involves allowing nature to decide questions she is destined to decide (optimal patience) and retracting prior beliefs as little as possible (optimal monotonicity).

Alexandru Baltag (Amsterdam) - TBA


Emmanuel Genot (Lund) - Taking Hintikka Seriously: Interrogative Games as a General Theory of Reasoning (Slides)

Hintikka proposed to consider his interrogative logic—which generalizes classical entailment—and their companion ‘interrogative inquiry game’ as a general theory of reasoning. But classical logic, and therefore its extensions,  is a poor  basis for a cognitive theory of reasoning.  On the one hand, mainstream cognitive science has repudiated logic-based models, in the wake of empirical  results about ‘logical reasoning’ tasks (in particular Wason's Selection Task) they could not accommodate.  Bayesian models, who can fit the data, were left as (almost) sole survivors. On the other hand, emerging  cognitive theories of  semantic abilities acknowledge the fruitfulness of formal semantic models. But they view logical reasoning (classical or otherwise) as supervenient  on language interpretation,  itself  exapted by evolution from more general planning abilities, that evolved to meet the needs of cooperation. Yet, recent results show that classical entailment can be captured by epistemic reasoning (aka planning) in algorithmic semantic games, generalizing  Hintikka's interrogative games. Hintikka's proposal can be updated, if strategic planning in these games can yield a general theory of reasoning. I will argue that it does, and that such an account meets possible  objections based on the Selection Task, outperforms the explanatory power of Bayesian models, and reconciles cognitive theories of semantic abilities with some some of their alleged pragmatic' rivals—in particular, relevance theory.

Jeroen Groenendijk & Ivano Ciardelli (Amsterdam & Bordeaux) - Hybrid, Classical, and Presuppositional Inquisitive Semantics (Slides)

In inquisitive semantics, the notion of meaning encompasses both the informative and the inquisitive potential of sentences. In the basic system InqB of inquisitive semantics, a sentence can be hybrid, that is, informative and inquisitive. Questions and assertions are identified semantically as sentences that serve only one of these purposes (either to provide or to request information), while  no distinction between indicative and interrogative sentences is drawn at the  syntactic level.  
On the other hand, this syntactic distinction appears to be a strikingly widespread feature across natural languages. We call a language that partitions sentences in indicatives and interrogatives a classical erotetic language. The common view on the role of these categories is that the meaning of indicatives lies in their informative potential, while the meaning of interrogatives lies in their inquisitive potential. Here, our aim is not to discuss to what extent this picture is in fact accurate, but rather to show how such a point of view can be naturally accommodated in the context of inquisitive semantics. 
That is, we will show how inquisitive meanings can be expressed naturally by means of a suitable classical erotetic language. In the resulting system InqA, indicatives are assertions and interrogatives are questions. So, all formulas serve only one of the two purposes of information exchange. Despite the lack of sentences expressing hybrid meanings, InqA is expressively complete for inquisitive meanings as soon as the semantic unit is taken to be a sequence of sentences. 
We we will then move on to consider a natural refinement of this system where, though questions are not informative, they may have a presupposition, in line with what is assumed in many erotetic logics, and which is arguably the case in natural language. After an exposition of the semantics of this system InqP, we will present an axiomatization of the associated logic, as well as an axiomatization of the logic of InqA. 
The move from InqA to InqP requires a change in the very notion of inquisitive meaning. We will conclude by considering this change from a more conceptual perspective.

Yacin Hamami (Brussels) - Towards an Inquisitive Approach to Interrogative Inquiry (Slides)

The framework of inquisitive semantics and pragmatics, developed by Ciardelli, Groenendijk, Mascarenhas and Roelofsen, offers a new approach to the semantic modelling of questions and answers in conversations. In this talk, I will show how the inquisitive framework can be used to investigate the process of interrogative inquiry in conversational contexts. To this end, I will start by presenting the inquisitive modelling of questions and answers, and I will compare it to Hintikka's treatment of questions in the Interrogative Model of Inquiry. I will then discuss and define the notion of interrogative rule which aims to characterize the question-answer steps that one can make in an interrogative inquiry. I will show how the interrogative rule can be put into a temporal perspective by introducing the notion of interrogative protocol, which aims to govern interrogative inquiry as a temporal process. The notion of interrogative protocol will enable us to reach formal definitions of the notions of interrogative inquiry and interrogative consequence, Which I will illustrate with some concrete examples. I will then investigate some properties of the framework: I will relate the notion of interrogative consequence with the ones of distributed information and yes-no question and I will make some proposals for a computational investigation of interrogative inquiry within the framework. I will then argue that this computational approach allows us to revisit the so-called strategic aspects of inquiry from an algorithmic point of view. I will conclude the talk with proposals for further research on the inquisitive approach to interrogative inquiry.

Andrzej Wisniewski (Poznan) - Dynamic Aspects of the Erotetic Decomposition Principle (Slides)

Both IMI and IEL (Inferential Erotetic Logic) give account of the following Erotetic Decomposition Principle: Transform a principal question into auxiliary questions in such a way that: (a) consecutive auxiliary questions are dependent upon previous questions and, possibly, answers to previous questions, and (b) once auxiliary questions are resolved, the principal question is resolved as well.
The peculiarity of IEL, however, lies in its approach to the dependency issue (a). It is stipulated that a consecutive auxiliary question is to be erotetically implied by a prior auxiliary question or the principal question, possibly on the basis of initial premises and/or answers to previous auxiliary question(s). Erotetic implication, in turn, is a semantic relation defined in terms of IEL. Moreover, it is postulated that, at the first stage, the decomposition should have the form of designing a preliminary erotetic search scenario. Roughly, a scenario of this kind shows what auxiliary questions should be asked and when they should be asked. The preliminary scenario starts to be executed and then, depending on answers received or availability of answers, is subjected to dynamic transformations, where the basic moves are contractions and embeddings. Erotetic search scenarios and the respective operations on them are defined in terms of IEL.
The aim of the talk is to present the above picture more specifically, but without going into technical details. Some yet unpublished results will be also announced.

Stefan Minica (Amsterdam) - Dynamic Epistemic Logic of Questions

I will start by introducing Issue-Epistemic Models (IEMs), questioning actions that change their structure, and the standard DELQ reduction axioms that describe questioning and information dynamics. In the second part I will show how a tableau calculus for DELQ can be automatically synthesized using standard methods and how the emerging background theory can be added to existing implementations. I will then use the resulting tableau rules as a starting point for a brief comparison with other inquiry calculi that are tableau based, the most prominent ones being IMI and IEL. Finally, I will discuss how the resulting calculus can be used as a starting point in analyzing and designing efficient query strategies.

Gabriel Sandu (Helsinki) - Dynamic Logic vs IF Logic: A Case Study (Slides)


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