, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 25-44

Evaluating dialectical structures with Bayesian methods

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Abstract

This paper shows how complex argumentation, analyzed as dialectical structures, can be evaluated within a Bayesian framework by interpreting them as coherence constraints on subjective degrees of belief. A dialectical structure is a set of arguments (premiss-conclusion structure) among which support- and attack-relations hold. This approach addresses the observation that some theses in a debate can be better justified than others and thus fixes a shortcoming of a theory of defeasible reasoning which applies the bivalence principle to argument evaluations by assigning them the status of being either defeated or undefeated. Evaluation procedures which are based on the principle of bivalence can, however, be embedded as a special case within the Bayesian framework. The approach developed in this paper rests on the assumptions that arguments can be reconstructed as deductively valid and that complex argumentation can be reconstructed such that premisses of arguments with equivalent conclusions are pairwise independent.