The Toulmin Argument Model in Artificial Intelligence. Or: How Semi-Formal, Defeasible Argumentation Schemes Creep into Logic

Bart Verheij

In 1958, Toulmin published The Uses of Argument. Although this anti-formalistic monograph initially received mixed reviews (see section 2 of Toulmin 2006 for his own recounting of the reception of his book), it has become a classical text on argumentation. An argumentation textbook without a reference to Toulmin's views is not complete, and the number of references to the book (when writing these words - by a nice numerological coincidence - 1958) continues to grow. Also the field of Artificial Intelligence has discovered Toulmin's work. Especially four of Toulmin's themes have found follow-up in Artificial Intelligence. First, argumentation involves counterreasons and is hence defeasible. Second, standards of argumentation are not universal and can themselves be the subject of argumentation. Third, the analysis of argumentation needs a richer set of building blocks than only premises and conclusions. Fourth, Toulmin's overarching suggestion of approaching logic as a kind of generalised jurisprudence has been followed. Using these central themes as a starting point, this chapter provides an introduction to Toulmin's argument model and its connections with artificial intelligence research. No attempt is made to give a comprehensive history of the reception of Toulmin's ideas in Artificial Intelligence; instead a personal choice is made of representative steps in AI-oriented argumentation research.

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Verheij, B. (2009). The Toulmin Argument Model in Artificial Intelligence. Or: how semi-formal, defeasible argumentation schemes creep into logic. Argumentation in Artificial Intelligence (eds. Rahwan, I., & Simari, G.), 219-238. Dordrecht: Springer.

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