A neural cognitive model of argumentation with application to legal inference and decision making

Artur S. D'Avila Garcez, Dov M. Gabbay, Luis C. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Formal models of argumentation have been investigated in several areas, from multi-agent systems and artificial intelligence (AI) to decision making, philosophy and law. In artificial intelligence, logic-based models have been the standard for the representation of argumentative reasoning. More recently, the standard logic-based models have been shown equivalent to standard connectionist models. This has created a new line of research where (i) neural networks can be used as a parallel computational model for argumentation and (ii) neural networks can be used to combine argumentation, quantitative reasoning and statistical learning. At the same time, non-standard logic models of argumentation started to emerge. In this paper, we propose a connectionist cognitive model of argumentation that accounts for both standard and non-standard forms of argumentation. The model is shown to be an adequate framework for dealing with standard and non-standard argumentation, including joint-attacks, argument support, ordered attacks, disjunctive attacks, meta-level attacks, self-defeating attacks, argument accrual and uncertainty. We show that the neural cognitive approach offers an adequate way of modelling all of these different aspects of argumentation. We have applied the framework to the modelling of a public prosecution charging decision as part of a real legal decision making case study containing many of the above aspects of argumentation. The results show that the model can be a useful tool in the analysis of legal decision making, including the analysis of what-if questions and the analysis of alternative conclusions. The approach opens up two new perspectives in the short-term: the use of neural networks for computing prevailing arguments efficiently through the propagation in parallel of neuronal activations, and the use of the same networks to evolve the structure of the argumentation network through learning (e.g. to learn the strength of arguments from data).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Logic
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Argumentation
  • Cognitive modelling
  • Legal decision making
  • Neural-symbolic reasoning


Dive into the research topics of 'A neural cognitive model of argumentation with application to legal inference and decision making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this