Preferences and Nonmonotonic Reasoning

  • Gerhard Brewka
  • Ilkka Niemela
  • Miroslaw Truszczynski University of Kentucky


We give an overview of the multifaceted relationship between nonmonotonic logics and preferences. We discuss how the nonmonotonicity of reasoning itself is closely tied to preferences reasoners have on models of the world or, as we often say here, possible belief sets. Selecting extended logic programming with the answer-set semantics as a "generic" nonmonotonic logic, we show how that logic defines preferred belief sets and how preferred belief sets allow us to represent and interpret normative statements. Conflicts among program rules (more generally, defaults) give rise to alternative preferred belief sets. We discuss how such conflicts can be resolved based on implicit specificity or on explicit rankings of defaults. Finally, we comment on formalisms which explicitly represent preferences on properties of belief sets. Such formalisms either build preference information directly into rules and modify the semantics of the logic appropriately, or specify preferences on belief sets independently of the mechanism to define them.