Tech Reports


Persuasion in Practical Argument using Value-Based Argumentation Frameworks

Trevor J. M. Bench-Capon


In many cases of disagreement, particularly in situations involving practical reasoning, it is impossible to demonstrate conclusively that either party is wrong. The role of argument in such cases is to persuade rather than to prove, demonstrate or refute. Following Perelman, we argue that persuasion in such cases relies on a recognition that the strength of an argument depends on the social values that it advances, and that whether the attack of argument on another succeeds depends on the comparative strength of the values advanced by the arguments concerned. To model this we extend the standard notion of Argumentation Frameworks (AFs) to Value-Based Argumentation Frameworks (VAFs). After defining VAFs we explore their properties, and show how they can provide a rational basis for the acceptance or rejection of arguments, even where this would appear to be a matter of choice in a standard AF. In particular, we show that in a VAF certain arguments can be shown to be acceptable however the relative strengths of the values involved are assessed. This means that disputants can concur on the acceptance of arguments, even when they differ as to which values are more important. This forms the basis for an account of persuasive argument in dialogues pertaining to practical reasoning.

[Full Paper]