Tech Reports


Modelling Judicial Contexts in Argumentation Frameworks

Adam Wyner and Trevor Bench-Capon


Much work using argumentation frameworks treats arguments as entirely abstract, related by a uniform attack relation which always succeeds unless the attacker can itself be defeated. However, this does not seem adequate for legal argumentation. Some proposals have suggested regulating attack relations using preferences or values on arguments and which filter the attack relation, so that some attacks fail and so can be removed from the framework. This does not, however, capture several important context related features of legal reasoning, such as how an audience can prefer or value an argument, yet be constrained by precedent or authority not to accept it. Nor does it explain how certain types of attack may not be allowed in a particular procedural context. For this reason, evaluation of the status of arguments within a given framework must be allowed to depend not only on the attack relations along with the preference or value of arguments, but also on the nature of the attacks and the context in which they are made. We present a means to represent these features, enabling us to account for a number of factors currently considered to be beyond the remit of formal argumentation frameworks. We give three examples of the use of approach: appealing a case, overruling a precedent, and rehearing of a case as a civil rather than criminal proceeding.

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