Using Argumentation to Structure E-Participation in Policy Making

  • Trevor Bench-CaponEmail author
  • Katie Atkinson
  • Adam Wyner
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8980)


Tools for e-participation are becoming increasingly important. In this paper we argue that existing tools exhibit a number of limitations, and that these can be addressed by basing tools on developments in the field of computational argumentation. After discussing the limitations, we present an argumentation scheme which can be used to justify policy proposals, and a way of modelling the domain so that arguments using this scheme and attacks upon them can be automatically generated. We then present two prototype tools: one to present justifications and receive criticism, and the other to elicit justifications of user-proposed policies and critique them. We use a running example of a genuine policy debate to illustrate the various aspects.


E-participation Argumentation Dialogues Deliberation Values Policy making 



This paper represents a consolidated version of work carried out at the University of Liverpool on the European project IMPACT (FP7-ICT-2009-4 Programme, Grant Number 247228). The views are those of the authors. It is a revised and much extended version of a keynote talk given by the first author at DEXA 2013 in Prague [8]. It draws on a series of earlier papers: especially [3, 25, 26, 28]. We would particularly like to thank our colleagues Maya Wardeh, who did much of the implementation, Dan Cartwright, who explored an earlier version of the Structured Consultation Tool (Parmenides) in his PhD thesis [9], and colleagues on the IMPACT project. The work described here has its ultimate origins in [13], also presented in Prague.


  1. 1.
    Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.: States, goals and values: Revisiting practical reasoning. In: Proceedings of Argmas 2014 (2015, In Press)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Practical reasoning as presumptive argumentation using action based alternating transition systems. Artif. Intell. 171(10–15), 855–874 (2007)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M., Cartwright, D., Wyner, A.Z.: Semantic models for policy deliberation. In: Ashley, K.D., van Engers, T.M. (eds.) Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, ICAIL, pp. 81–90. ACM, Pittsburgh (2011)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M., McBurney, P.: Computational representation of practical argument. Synthese 152(2), 157–206 (2006)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bench-Capon, T., Prakken, H.: A lightweight formal model of two-phase democratic deliberation. In: Proceedings of JURIX 2010, pp. 27–36. IOS Press (2010)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Agreeing to differ: modelling persuasive dialogue between parties with different values. Informal Log. 22, 231–246 (2002)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Persuasion in practical argument using value-based argumentation frameworks. J. Log. Comput. 13(3), 429–448 (2003)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bench-Capon, T.: Structuring E-participation in policy making through argumentation. In: Decker, H., Lhotská, L., Link, S., Basl, J., Tjoa, A.M. (eds.) DEXA 2013, Part I. LNCS, vol. 8055, pp. 4–6. Springer, Heidelberg (2013) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cartwright, D.: Digital decision-making: using computational argumentation to support democratic processes. Ph.D. thesis, University of Liverpool (2011)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cartwright, D., Atkinson, K.: Using computational argumentation to support e-participation. IEEE Intell. Syst. 24(5), 42–52 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Dung, P.M.: On the acceptability of arguments and its fundamental role in nonmonotonic reasoning, logic programming, and \(n\)-person games. Artif. Intell. 77, 321–357 (1995)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gordon, T.F., Karacapilidis, N.I.: The zeno argumentation framework. In: Sixth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, pp. 10–18 (1997)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Greenwood, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M., McBurney, P.: Structuring dialogue between the people and their representatives. In: Traunmüller, R. (ed.) EGOV 2003. LNCS, vol. 2739, pp. 55–62. Springer, Heidelberg (2003) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Karacapilidis, N.I., Papadias, D.: Computer supported argumentation and collaborative decision making: the hermes system. Inf. Syst. 26(4), 259–277 (2001)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kunz, W., Rittel, H.W.J.: Information science: On the structure of its problems. Inf. Storage Retrieval 8(2), 95–98 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Macintosh, A., Gordon, T., Renton, A.: Providing argument support for eparticipation. J. Inf. Technol. Polit. 6(1), 43–59 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Modgil, S.: Reasoning about preferences in argumentation frameworks. Artif. Intell. 173(9–10), 901–934 (2009)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pulfrey-Taylor, S., Henthorn, E., Atkinson, K., Wyner, A., Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Populating an online consultation tool. Leg. Knowl. Inf. Syst. JURIX 2011, 150–154 (2011)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Reed, C., Rowe, G.: Araucaria: Software for argument analysis, diagramming and representation. Int. J. Artif. Intell. Tools 13(4), 983 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Schneider, J., Groza, T., Passant, A.: A review of argumentation for the social semantic web. Semant. Web 4(2), 159–218 (2013)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Searle, J.R.: Rationality in Action John R. Searle A Bradford Book. MIT Press, London (2001). Please check the edit made in reference [21] Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Walton, D.: Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah (1996) Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wardeh, M., Wyner, A., Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Argumentation based tools for policy-making. In: The 14th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, pp. 249–250. ACM Press (2013)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wooldridge, M., van der Hoek, W.: On obligations and normative ability: towards a logical analysis of the social contract. J. Appl. Log. 3(3–4), 396–420 (2005)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wyner, A., Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Critiquing justifications for action using a semantic model: Demonstration. In: Computational Models of Argument - Proceedings of COMMA 2012, pp. 503–504. IOS Press, (2012)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Wyner, A., Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.J.M.: Opinion gathering using a multi-agent systems approach to policy selection. In: van der Hoek, W., Padgham, L., Conitzer, V., Winikoff, M. (eds.) Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS, pp. 1171–1172. IFAAMAS, Valencia (2012). Please check the publisher location for reference [26]Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wyner, A., Wardeh, M., Bench-Capon, T.J.M., Atkinson, K.: A model-based critique tool for policy deliberation. In: The Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems - JURIX 2012, pp. 167–176. IOS Press (2012)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wyner, A., Atkinson, K., Bench-Capon, T.: Towards a structured online consultation tool. In: Tambouris, E., Macintosh, A., de Bruijn, H. (eds.) ePart 2011. LNCS, vol. 6847, pp. 286–297. Springer, Heidelberg (2011) CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trevor Bench-Capon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katie Atkinson
    • 1
  • Adam Wyner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Department of Computing ScienceUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

Personalised recommendations