ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Dialogical Argumentation: Statement-Based, Argument-Based And Mixed Models

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
The dialectical style of studying argumentation is old, very old. Already Aristotle and Protagoras did recognize the dialectical nature of argumentation. A few millennia later, from the beginning of the 1990s onwards to be exact, researchers involved in the field of Artificial Intelligence & Law (AI & Law) became interested in dialogical models of argumentation [e.g., Gordon, 1993; Loui et al., 1993; Farley & Freeman, 1995; Lodder & Herczog, 1995; Prakken, 1995; Kowalski & Toni, 1996]. By approaching argumentation dialogically the research on AI & Law followed in the footsteps of prominent researchers from various fields, like philosophy [e.g., Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1971; Habermas, 1973; Rescher, 1977], logic [e.g., Lorenz, 1961; Barth & Krabbe, 1982], legal theory [e.g., Aarnio, Alexy & Peczenik et al., 1981], and argumentation [e.g., Hamblin, 1970; Van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1982; Woods & Walton, 1982].

There is a difference between the product and process of argumentation. If the product of argumentation is studied, general structures of support between sets of premises and a conclusion are defined. In a product-approach of argumentation a statement is justified:
– if the premises are justified, and
– if by valid inference,
– the conclusion can be derived from the premises.

The product of argumentation is static. Conversely, the process of argumentation is dynamic. If the process of argumentation is studied procedural rules are defined that determine for each stage of the process whether a statement is justified. In a process approach of justification a statement is justified:
– if after a sequence of one or more steps, the statement is justified according to the rules of the procedure.

If the procedural model of argumentation is defined as a dialog game, statements are justified if they are successfully defended in a dialog, that is, if a player (the proponent of the statement) succeeded in convincing his opponent. A commonly accepted starting point in dialogical models is that a player who claims a sentence must be willing to defend it, or, in other words, on the claiming players rests the burden of proof. This paper elaborates on the various ways this defense can be modeled. Therefore, three dialogical models of argumentation are discussed. One, probably the best known dialogical model of argumentation, stems from the field of argumentation: MacKenzie’s DC. The other two are AI & Law models: Gordon’s Pleadings Game and my own DiaLaw. Especially by concentrating on the possible moves of the game and the way in which commitment is used, these models will be characterized. Moreover, by showing a representation of the same sample dialog in the three models differences are illustrated. The reason to discuss these three models is that they are examples of what I like to call statement-based models (DC), argument-based models

(Pleadings Game), and mixed models (DiaLaw). Besides introducing this taxonomy of models, the different model types are related to the possible purposes of argumentation models, viz. empirical purposes, theoretical purposes and normative purposes.

The paper is structured as follows. First, definitions are given of both arguments and statements. Subsequently, the legal sample dialog is introduced and the three models are discussed. Finally, the possible purposes of argumentation models are briefly introduced, and it is suggested that a statement-based model is best suited as an empirical model, that a mixed-model is best-suited as a theoretical model, and that an argument-based model is best suited as normative model. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Democratic Justice, Argumentative Dialogue, And Political Legitimacy

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
My aim in this paper is to address some links between argumentation theory and political theory. Practitioners in both areas share an important element of common concern, namely, identifying the conditions of rational argumentative dialogue. On the one hand, argumentation theorists have offered models idealizing a preferred structure of discussion aimed at reaching a reasonably well-defended position on some subject, while on the other hand, some political theorists have been concerned, over the past decade or so, to think about social deliberation as part of a defense of democratic legitimacy and social justice. In the present context, the interest of the latter idea, for both sorts of theorists, is that an appealing conception of legitimacy or justice for modern democratic societies might be developed by focusing on the idea of a rational democratic discussion.
My more specific aims are as follows: first, to explain the immediate background in political philosophy to the current concern with the links between dialogue and justice (i.e., John Rawls’s approach and its problems); secondly, to clarify the reasons for thinking that democratic legitimacy is best understood by reference to a model of social discussion; thirdly, to register a general claim about the material preconditions for meaningful participation in democratic discussion aimed at reaching decisions about the terms of political association; and finally, to address several objections to the idea that a model of “deliberative democracy” is at all relevant to our self-understanding as citizens in modern democratic societies.

2. Rawls’s Contractarian Argument and Beyond
In 1971, John Rawls’s book, A Theory of Justice , was published, immediately reinvigorating political philosophy and initiating a series of debates about justice and political justification that have continued to this day. Rawls’s achievement consists in two different variations on some old themes: first, he offers substantive principles of justice, attempting to show that liberty and equality are compatible moral and political values, and secondly, he defends those principles, in part, by means of a social contract argument. For our purposes, it is this argument – rather than Rawls’s specific conclusions – that is the jumping-off point for my discussion.
Rawls’s argument appeals to a hypothetical contractual situation in which individuals choose principles from behind a ‘veil of ignorance’, a device designed to rule out bias and therefore ensure impartiality in the resulting principles. The problem is to choose principles of justice to underpin the main social, economic, and political institutions for a given society, and Rawls’s argument is that we should imagine what principles individuals would choose if they did not know anything about themselves that would enable them to tailor the chosen principles to their own advantage. The principles that would be chosen in this hypothetical so-called ‘original position’ are the principles we should accept because the choosing situation is designed to cohere with our considered judgements about the requirements of justice. One such judgement is that justice is closely linked to impartiality , another is that a person’s life prospects should not be determined by their good or bad luck in respect of natural abilities or social circumstances (Rawls 1971: 18-19). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – The Use Of Ambiguous Expressions In Discussions

ISSAlogo1998The fallacy of misusing lexical ambiguity in argumentation is called the fallacy of equivocation. I will explain what the fallacy consists of by sketching a dialectical situation. Starting from the notion of a precization, I will explore some possible moves of the opponent and proponent in that situation.
My main conclusions will be that it is polysemy rather than ambiguity in a narrow sense that is at the bottom of the fallacy of equivocation and that, partly in consequence of this, the proponent has some interesting possibilities after the opponent has detected the ambiguity. Before one accuses someone of the fallacy of equivocation one should not only check if a distinction is apt, but also whether there is any reasonable defence for the proponent.

1. The fallacy of equivocation
Equivocation is the fallacy of the misuse of the multiple meanings of an expression in argumentation. Two examples are:
(1) The money is in the bank, the bank is by the river, so you should go to the river. (Walton 1996: 72)
(2) All acts prescribed by law are obligatory. Nonperformance of an obligatory act is to be disapproved. Therefore, nonperformance of an act prescribed by law is to be disapproved. (Hamblin 1970: 292)

What’s wrong with these arguments? I will focus on the second, more realistic example. We can best understand the function of the elements of the argument from the perspective of a persuasion dialogue or critical discussion (Walton & Krabbe 1995: 68, Van Eemeren & Grootendorst 1992: 34). A proponent tries to persuade an opponent of his thesis. To achieve this end he needs a strategy.
The proponent should offer reasons that are plausible to the opponent. If the opponent does not object to these reasons, they count as commitments that cannot be withdrawn without explanation. The proponent will then have to show that the opponent is inconsistent when she is committed to the reasons that form part of his argument, but still maintains her critical attitude towards the thesis.
That means that when we are confronted with an argument for a thesis, we can evaluate the argument by (1) examining the plausibility of the reasons relative to the opponent and (2) checking if the position in which one is committed to the reasons but criticizes the thesis is inconsistent. So the evaluation is partly dependent upon the choice of the opponent. This choice is dependent upon the end of the evaluation. One can be interested in the tenability of the argumentation relative to oneself or relative to another actual or imagined group or individual.

When we imagine some reasonable and charitable opponent and look at the second example, we see an argument that could be successful. Both reasons have a certain plausibility. Acts prescribed by law are obligatory in a sense, because nonperformance of an act prescribed by law is often followed by sanctions of some sort. And nonperformance of an obligatory act is to be disapproved in a sense, because we should disapprove of the nonperformance of an act that one should perform. So, there is some ground to expect that this reasonable and charitable opponent will commit herself to the reasons.
We can picture the relevant fragment of dialogue as follows. Moves one and two form the confrontation stage, moves three and four are part of the argumentation stage (van Eemeren & Grootendorst 1992: 35). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Modelling Contractual Arguments

ISSAlogo19981. Introduction
One influential approach to assessing the “goodness” of arguments is offered by the Pragma-Dialectical school (p-d) (Eemeren & Grootendorst 1992). This can be compared with Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) (Mann & Thompson 1988), an approach that originates in discourse analysis. In p-d terms an argument is good if it avoids committing a fallacy, whereas in RST terms an argument is good if it is coherent. RST has been criticised (Snoeck Henkemans 1997) for providing only a partially functional account of argument, and similar criticisms have been raised in the Natural Language Generation (NLG) community – particularly by Moore & Pollack (1992) – with regards to its account of intentionality in text in general.
Mann and Thompson themselves note that although RST can be successfully applied to a wide range of texts from diverse domains, it fails to characterise some types of text, most notably legal contracts. There is ongoing research in the Artificial Intelligence and Law community exploring the potential for providing electronic support to contract negotiators, focusing on long-term, complex engineering agreements (see for example Daskalopulu & Sergot 1997). The negotiation process, which is a lengthy cycle of proposal and counter-proposal, can be seen as inherently argumentative in nature with each party involved trying to influence the agreement in a way that best serves their own interests. The negotiation process is conducted by parties exchanging proposed drafts of the contract, where each draft represents an argument put forward by one party to persuade the other. Furthermore the internal structure of any given contractual document can be analysed as an implicit discussion where an implicit opponent makes requests for clarification and specification (particularly of contingencies that might arise). Supporting these aspects of contracts depends upon a rich model of the argumentative structure of the complex pre-contractual documents, and it is therefore disappointing that RST fails to account for such text.
It has also become clear (Reed 1998) that RST is fundamentally inappropriate for representing argument structure in three important respects: RST admits multiple analyses of a given piece of text and this is in direct contrast to the argumentation theoretic approach; particular structures that are frequently encountered in arguments are not catered for by RST; and finally, patterns of reasoning that underlie an argument (such as modus ponens, inductive generalisation and so on) can neither be represented by, nor inferred from an RST analysis (and even more so where multiple analyses exist).
This paper provides a brief introduction to RST and illustrates its shortcomings with respect to contractual text. An alternative approach for modelling argument structure is presented (extending Reed & Long 1997a) which not only caters for contractual text, but also overcomes the aforementioned limitations of RST. Finally it is shown that this approach meets the criticisms expressed by both Snoeck Henkemans (1997) and Moore and Pollack (1992) by offering a truly functional account of illocutionary purpose.

2. An overview of rhetorical structure theory
2.1 RST assumptions, methodology and basic concepts
Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) developed by Mann and Thompson (1987; 1988) purports to evaluate text (including arguments) in terms of its coherence. The characteristics of RST as a descriptive framework for natural text are:
(i) It describes relations between parts of text in functional terms, whether such relations are grammatically signalled or otherwise.
(ii) It identifies hierarchical structure in text.
(iii) Its scope is written monologue and it is insensitive to text size. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Argumental Deduction: A Programme For Informal Logic

ISSAlogo19981. A remark on logical practices
The business of logic is to provide us with the wherewithal for the evaluation of arguments. Not everyone will agree with so blunt a statement but most will accept it as close enough to the truth insofar as logic figures in argumentation and argumentation theory.
I want to begin by looking at some of our logical practices. By a ‘logical practice’ I mean a logical method, even if it is only loosely defined, that is used more or less widely.
Consider first propositional logic set up as a natural deduction system. This is one of our logical practices. With this method we identify an argument’s premises and conclusion, write them in the syntax of propositional logic and then, by as many applications of valid inference rules as needed, we write a series of sentences the last of which is the argument’s conclusion. If we are successful we have a proof that the conclusion follows logically from the premises, i.e., that the argument is valid. Using the Venn diagram method for testing syllogisms is another of our logical practices. We map only the argument’s premises on the diagram and then examine it to see whether the given conclusion is present. The syllogism is valid just in case expression of the premises on the diagram is at once an expression of the conclusion too.
As a last example of one of our logical practices, think of informal logic. Not a few informal logicians teach that an argument is good only if the premises satisfy three conditions. One of these conditions is that they must be acceptable. The others are that the relationship between the premises and the conclusion must be such that the premises are relevant to the conclusion, and sufficient for the conclusion.
What these three kinds of logical practice, and some others, have in common is that they seek to evaluate arguments by examining the relationship between an argument’s premises and its conclusion directly. Each method requires that we determine whether the conclusion follows from the premises; that is, given the premises, the question is “by the standards in use, can the conclusion be said to be a logical consequence of the premises?”. It might not true. Consider, for example, the practice of logical analogies.

In evaluating arguments by logical analogy we proceed as follows:
A target argument, H, is presented for evaluation. A familiar argument, B, known to be a bad argument, is held to be structurally similar, or parallel, to argument H. Hence, H is a bad argument. For example, let the argument to be evaluated be

No liberals are conservatives
All liberals are supporters of socialized medicine
So, No conservatives are supporters of socialized medicine Read more

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Public Argument And Civil Society: The Cold War Legacy As A Barrier To Deliberative Politics

ISSAlogo1998The often dramatic happenings in Eastern and Central Europe a decade ago, as well as subsequent events in the Soviet Union which resulted in its eventual rupture, made for a revival of interest in the idea of civil society with all of its historical and philosophical meanings.
Thus, for example, Karl E. Birnbaum wrote in 1991: “In a Europe where democracy is finally writ large all over the continent, the present major tasks of political reconstruction more than ever requires the active participation of individual citizens, of civil society” (84).

In the political arena, Vaclav Havel, shortly after his election as President of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, affirmed the importance of the idea: “. . . the principle of civil society represents the best way for individuals to realize themselves, to fulfil their identity in all the circles of their home, to enjoy everything that belongs to their natural world, not just some aspects of it” (1992: 32).
In later years, Havel expanded the notion of civil society to serve as the guarantor of political stability. When he addressed the Parliament and Senate of the Czech Republic on December 9, 1997, partially in response to the forced resignation of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Havel used the occasion to reflect on the progress of the Republic: “The more developed all the organs, institutions, and instruments of civil society are, the more resistant that society will be to political upheavals or reversals” (1998: 45). A truly democratic system would not be threatened by a scandal, a crisis or some banal event. “In my opinion,” Havel said, “this can only happen because we have not yet created the foundations of a genuinely evolved civil society, which lives on a thousand different levels and thus need not feel that its existence depends on one government or another or on one political party or another” (45).
In another part of the world, former U.S.A. Senator Bill Bradley, a popular and well-regarded politician who decided not to seek re-election in 1996, views civil society as key to the American experience: “American civilization is like a three-legged stool, with government and the private sector being two legs and the third being civil society, the place where we live our lives, educate our kids, worship our God, and associate with our neighbors” (412). Like Havel, Bradley views civil society as containing the seeds for democratic renewal: “Within civil society lies the zest to deal with what ails us as a nation” (414).
Finally, in Jürgen Habermas’ recent works in communication, political and sociological theory, he argues the need for an enlightened civil society in order to make deliberative politics function. To Habermas, “civil society is composed of those more or less spontaneously emergent associations, organizations, and movements that, attuned to how societal problems resonate in the private life spheres, distill and transmit such reactions in amplified form to the public sphere” (367). Without minimizing the difficulties of a viable civil society, Habermas stresses its importance to basic constitutional guarantees. He argues: “The communication structures of the public sphere must rather be kept intact by an energetic civil society. That the political public sphere must in a certain sense reproduce and stabilize itself from its own resources is shown by the odd self-referential character of the practice of communication in civil society” (369).
In this paper, I want to examine the potential for civil society to serve as a mediating force in democratic practices. I will argue that civil society is culture-specific and that its potential can only be explained, understood and utilized within a particular national or ethnic setting; that current discontent in the American situation may well be attributed to a fractured and decaying civil society. Finally, I believe that the cold war as a dominating idea had a particular and debilitating impact on American civil society, damaging the argumentative practices necessary for meaningful deliberative politics to have cogent meaning. Read more

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