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Using Formal Argumentation to Clarify Structures of Legal Reasoning


· Giovanni Sartor University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy)
· Kees Van Berkel Technische Universität (Wien, Austria)


07/26 | 15:50-16:10 UTC+2/CEST


This talk introduces formal theories of argumentation and shows how such theories can be applied to the analysis of legal and normative reasoning in different traditions. We introduce the notions of “argument”, relations of conflict and support and methods for assessing the dialectical status of arguments and defended claims. Furthermore, we provide formal definitions of these notions. We will especially point out the advantages of using such framework for a better understanding of textual sources. For instance, we will show how the application of argumentation theory reveals the hidden assumptions, implicit preferences and implied consequences of the analysed discourses. In this way, formal argumentation can support a rational reconstruction and reflective criticism of complex dialectical interactions. Last, we will show how formal argumentation can handle complex sets of rules and exceptions, the connection between rules and values, and the reasoned choice between alternative interpretations. Throughout the talk, we will exemplify the use of our framework via applying it to the analysis of debates in contemporary law as well as South Asian thought.