Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Graham Priest

Committee Members

Sergei Artemov

David Papineau

Subject Categories

Dynamic Systems | Epistemology | Logic and Foundations | Philosophy of Science


epistemic norms, protocols, dynamic logic, epistemic dynamics, epistemic rationality, logic of norms


In this dissertation, I defend the protocol-theoretic account of epistemic norms. The protocol-theoretic account amounts to three theses: (i) There are norms of epistemic rationality that are procedural; epistemic rationality is at least partially defined by rules that restrict the possible ways in which epistemic actions and processes can be sequenced, combined, or chosen among under varying conditions. (ii) Epistemic rationality is ineliminably defined by procedural norms; procedural restrictions provide an irreducible unifying structure for even apparently non-procedural prescriptions and normative expressions, and they are practically indispensable in our cognitive lives. (iii) These procedural epistemic norms are best analyzed in terms of the protocol (or program) constructions of dynamic logic.

I defend (i) and (ii) at length and in multi-faceted ways, and I argue that they entail a set of criteria of adequacy for models of epistemic dynamics and abstract accounts of epistemic norms. I then define PLEN, the protocol-theoretic logic of epistemic norms. PLEN is a dynamic logic that analyzes epistemic rationality norms with protocol constructions interpreted over multi-graph based models of epistemic dynamics. The kernel of the overall argument of the dissertation is showing that PLEN uniquely satisfies the criteria defended; none of the familiar, rival frameworks for modeling epistemic dynamics or normative concepts are capable of satisfying these criteria to the same degree as PLEN. The overarching argument of the dissertation is thus a theory-preference argument for PLEN.