, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 291-316

First online:

Metadialogues for Resolving Burden of Proof Disputes

  • Douglas N. WaltonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Winnipeg Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In this paper, a solution to the problem of analyzing burden of proof in argumentation is developed by building on the pioneering work of Erik C. W. Krabbe on metadialogues. Three classic cases of burden of proof disputes are analyzed, showing how metadialogue theory can solve the problems they pose. The solution is based on five dialectical requirements: (1) global burden of proof needs to be set at the confrontation stage of a dialogue, (2) there need to be special mechanisms for resolving disputes about burden of proof at all four stages of the dialogue, (3) they are especially significant during the argumentation stage, where burden of proof often shifts back and forth at each move, (4) such local shifts need to be partly regulated by the global burden of proof already set, and (5) the connection between burden of proof and the speech act of making a presumption in a dialogue needs to be clarified.


burden of persuasion deadlocked dispute dialectical shifts evidence and proof hierarchical metalanguages legal argumentation metalogic of arguments presumption speech acts