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Legal case-based reasoning as practical reasoning KATIE ATKINSON and TREVOR BENCH-CAPON

Summary: Legal case-based reasoning as practical reasoning
Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, UK
E-mail: katie@csc.liv.ac.uk
Abstract. In this paper we apply a general account of practical reasoning to arguing about
legal cases. In particular, we provide a reconstruction of the reasoning of the majority and
dissenting opinions for a particular well-known case from property law. This is done through
the use of Belief-Desire-Intention (BDI) agents to replicate the contrasting views involved in the
actual decision. This reconstruction suggests that the reasoning involved can be separated into
three distinct levels: factual and normative levels and a level connecting the two, with con-
clusions at one level forming premises at the next. We begin by summarising our general
approach, which uses instantiations of an argumentation scheme to provide presumptive jus-
tifications for actions, and critical questions to identify arguments which attack these justifi-
cations. These arguments and attacks are organised into argumentation frameworks to identify
the status of individual arguments. We then discuss the levels of reasoning that occur in this
reconstruction and the properties and significance of each of these levels. We illustrate the
different levels with short examples and also include a discussion of the role of precedents
within these levels of reasoning.
Key words: argumentation, case based reasoning, intermediate legal concepts, legal decision
making, practical reasoning, teleological reasoning


Source: Atkinson, Katie - Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences