Argumentation in Weak Theory Domains

  • Kathleen Freeman
  • Arthur M. Farley
Conference paper
Part of the Workshops in Computing book series (WORKSHOPS COMP.)


We present argumentation as a method for reasoning in “weak theory domains”, i.e., domains where knowledge is incomplete, uncertain, and/or inconsistent. We see these factors as related: methods for reasoning under incomplete knowledge, for example, default reasoning, plausible reasoning, and evidential reasoning, may result in conclusions that are uncertain and/or inconsistent. Knowledge in many domains in which we’d like computers to reason can be expected to be incomplete, and therefore, possibly inconsistent. Also, some domains, e.g., legal reasoning, may be inherently inconsistent. Therefore, it is important to investigate methods for reasoning under inconsistency.

We explore the use of argumentation as a basis for this task. Argumentation is a method for locating, highlighting, and organizing relevant information both in support of and counter to a plausible claim. This information can then serve as a vehicle for comparing the merits of competing claims.

We present aspects of our preliminary investigation of a formal theory of argumentation: (i) identifying a formal theory of argumentation; (ii) implementing the theory in a computer program; (iii) gathering example problems and associated arguments; and (iv) evaluating the theory with respect to the example arguments. Current work concentrates on the structure and generation of independent arguments for an input claim and its negation. Future work will focus on argumentation as a series of adversarial moves that support and counter a claim.


Plausible Reasoning Argument Structure Legal Reasoning Modus Ponens Default Reasoning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© British Computer Society 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Freeman
    • 1
  • Arthur M. Farley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information ScienceUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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