Graph-Based Norm Explanation

Conference paper


Norms impose obligations, permissions and prohibitions on individual agents operating as part of an organisation. Typically, the purpose of such norms is to ensure that an organisation acts in some socially (or mutually) beneficial manner, possibly at the expense of individual agent utility. In this context, agents are normaware if they are able to reason about which norms are applicable to them, and to decide whether to comply with or ignore them. While much work has focused on the creation of norm-aware agents, much less has been concerned with aiding system designers in understanding the effects of norms on a system. The ability to understand such norm effects can aid the designer in avoiding incorrect norm specification, eliminating redundant norms and reducing normative conflict. In this paper, we address the problem of norm understanding by providing explanations as to why a norm is applicable, violated, or in some other state. We make use of conceptual graph based semantics to provide a graphical representation of the norms within a system. Given knowledge of the current and historical state of the system, such a representation allows for explanation of the state of norms, showing for example why they may have been activated or violated.


Norm Tree Order Logic Normative Reasoning Conceptual Graph Causal Graph 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors would like to thank the EU Agreement Technologies COST action for providing a STSM grant which made this work possible.


  1. 1.
    F. Baader, D. Calvanese, D. L. McGuinness, D. Nardi, and P. F. Patel-Schneider, editors. The Description Logic Handbook. Cambridge University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Boella and L. van der Torre. Permissions and obligations in hierarchical normative systems. In Proc. of ICAIL 03, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2003.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    G. Boella and L. van der Torre. Institutions with a hierarchy of authorities in distributed dynamic environments. Artificial Intelligence Law, 16:53–71, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    W. Briggs and D. Cook. Flexible social laws. In C. Mellish, editor, Proc. of the Fourteenth Int. Joint Conf. on Artificial Intelligence, pages 688–693, San Francisco, 1995. Morgan Kaufmann.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    M. Chein and M. Mugnier. Graph-based Knowledge Representation: Computational Foundations of Conceptual Graphs. Springer, 2009.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. Governatori, J. Hulstijn, R. Riveret, and A. Rotolo. Characterising deadlines in temporal modal defeasible logic. In Proc. of AI-2007, volume 4830 of Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, pages 486–496, 2007.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    S. Miles, P. Groth, and M. Luck. Handling mitigating circumstances for electronic contracts. In AISB 2008 Symp. on Behaviour Regulation in Multi-agent Systems, pages 37–42, 2008.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    N. Oren, S. Panagiotidi, J. Vazquez-Salceda, S. Modgil, M. Luck, and S. Miles. Towards a formalisation of electronic contracting environments. In Proc. of Coordination, Organization, Institutions and Norms in Agent Systems, the International Workshop at AAAI 2008, pages 61–68, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2008.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Y. Shoham and M. Tennenholtz. On social laws for artificial agent societies: Off-line design. Artificial Intelligence, 73(1–2):231–252, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. F. Sowa. Conceptual Graphs. IBM Journal of Research and Development, 20(4):336–375, 1976.MATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. F. Sowa. Conceptual Structures: Information Processing in Mind and Machine. Addison- Wesley, 1984.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    W. Woods and J. Schmolze. The kl-one family. Computers Math. Applic., 23:133–177, 1992.MATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LIRMM, University Montpellier IIMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Dept. of Computer ScienceUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  3. 3.Dept. of InformaticsKing’s College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations