In my dissertation A Study in the Logic of Institutions I develop a logical system for reasoning about institutions and their consistency. Since my dissertation is a work in logic rather than one in socio-political philosophy, I don’t defend a particular theory of institutions. Instead, I did as Yogi Bera suggested and simply took the fork in the road. A well-developed account of
institutions is given by John Searle in (1995); and (2010). His account bases all social reality on language, and I use his account to provide a logic for institutional norms.
Briefly, social reality is constructed via language by making our intentions clear to one another. And we do this via speech acts. There is one particular type of speech act that is important to institutions: declarations. Declarations bring about new social objects and create social states of affairs. It is via declarations that social institutions are created. In so far as
groups recognize an institution sustaining/making authority, that authority has the ability to generate new institutional rules via declarations.
According to Vanderveken (1990, 1991); see also Searle and Vanderveken (1985), speech
acts have a logic. That is, performing one speech act can satisfy the conditions of having performed another speech act. A priest declaring a baby baptized will also make it so that the priest has asserted that the baby is baptized, for instance. More importantly, certain declarations will result in the declarations of some of the logical consequences of the initial declarations. I characterize the set of speech acts that stand in that relationship and develop a logical system around that characterization.
The formal framework incorporates action and permits representations of complex institution-dependent relations, e.g., rights and duties. I further develop this formalism to investigate the notion of normative consistency. I show how to represent at least a minimal conception of normative inconsistency within the formal framework, and characterize its properties. I conclude by comparing my work to that of others.