ArguMed - A Template-Based Argument Mediation System for Lawyers

Bart Verheij


This paper introduces the ArguMed-system. It is an example of a system for computer-mediated defeasible argumentation, a new trend in the field of defeasible argumentation. In this research, computer systems are developed that mediate the process of argumentation by one or more users. Argument- mediation systems should be contrasted with systems for automated reasoning: the latter perform reasoning tasks for users, while the former play the more passive role of a mediator. E.g., mediation systems keep track of the arguments raised and of the justification status of statements.

The argumentation theory of the ArguMed-system is an adaptation of Verheij's CumulA-model, a procedural model of argumentation with arguments and counterarguments. In the CumulA-model, the defeat of arguments is determined by the structure of arguments and the attack relation between arguments. It is completely independent of the underlying language. The process-model is free, in the sense that it allows not only inference (i.e., 'forward' argumentation, drawing conclusions form premises), but also justification (i.e., 'backward' argumentation, adducing reasons for issues).

The ArguMed-system has been designed in an attempt to enhance the familiarity of the interface and the transparency of the underlying argumentation theory of its precursor, the Argue!-system. The ArguMed-system's user interface is template-based, as is currently common in window-style user interfaces. The user gradually constructs arguments, by filling in templates that correspond to common argument patterns. An innovation of the ArguMed-system is that it uses dedicated templates for different types of argument moves. Whereas existing mediation systems are issue-based (in the style of Rittel's well-known Issue-Based Information System), the ArguMed-system allows free argumentation, as in the CumulA-model. In contrast with the CumulA-model, which has a very general notion of defeat, defeat in the ArguMed-system is only of Pollock's undercutter-type. The system allows three types of argument moves, viz. making a statement, adding a reason and its conclusion, and providing an (undercutter-type) exception blocking the connection between a reason and a conclusion.

To put the ArguMed-system in context, it is compared with selected existing systems for argument mediation. The differences between the underlying argumentation theories and user interfaces are striking, which is suggested to be a symptom of the early stages of development of argument mediation systems. Given the lack of system evaluation by users in the field, the paper concludes with a discussion of the relevance of current research on computer-mediated defeasible argumentation. It is claimed that the shift of argument mediation systems from theoretical to practical tools is feasible, but can as yet not be made by system developers alone: a strong input from the research community is required.

Verheij, Bart (1998). ArguMed - A Template-Based Argument Mediation System for Lawyers. Legal Knowledge Based Systems. JURIX: The Eleventh Conference (eds. J.C.Hage, T.J.M. Bench-Capon, A.W. Koers, C.N.J. de Vey Mestdagh and C.A.F.M. Grütters), pp. 113-130. Gerard Noodt Instituut, Nijmegen.

Download manuscript (in PDF-format)

(This paper is on the 1.0 version of ArguMed. See the ICAIL '99 paper on ArguMed 2.0.)

Bart Verheij's home page - research - publications