Approaches to Legal Ontologies

Volume 1 of the series Law, Governance and Technology Series pp 99-115


The Case-Based Reasoning Approach: Ontologies for Analogical Legal Argument

  • Kevin D. AshleyAffiliated withLearning Research and Development Center, Intelligent Systems Program, and School of Law, University of Pittsburgh Email author 

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This paper discusses the state of the art in ontologies for case-based legal reasoning, but from the perspective of a consumer, not a developer. Today, although no one would develop a new case-based legal reasoning system without seriously considering the kind of ontology it should have, it is still hard to specify what such an ontology should provide. This paper shows what it should provide by way of an extended example. The paper proposes three specific roles for a case-based legal ontology and illustrates them in the context of a legal classroom discussion the yet-to-be invented CBR system should simulate, supported by an appropriate case-based ontology. The paper distills the ontological requirements for modeling the example’s case-based arguments and reviews if current research can meet those requirements. The concrete example helps to focus on and define goals for future developments in designing ontologies for case-based legal reasoning.