Assessing the epistemological relevance of Dung-style argumentation theories


DOI: 10.1007/s10472-015-9484-4

Cite this article as:
Betz, G. Ann Math Artif Intell (2016) 78: 303. doi:10.1007/s10472-015-9484-4


In a seminal paper Phan Minh Dung (Artif. Intell. 77(2), 321–357, 1995) developed the theory of abstract argumentation frameworks (AFs), which has remained a pivotal point of reference for research in AI and argumentation ever since. This paper assesses the merits of Dung’s theory from an epistemological point of view. It argues that, despite its prominence in AI, the theory of AFs is epistemologically flawed. More specifically, abstract AFs don’t provide a normatively adequate model for the evaluation of rational, multi-proponent controversy. Different interpretations of Dung’s theory may be distinguished. Dung’s intended interpretation collides with basic principles of rational judgement suspension. The currently prevailing knowledge base interpretation ignores relevant arguments when assessing proponent positions in a debate. It is finally suggested that abstract AFs be better understood as a paraconsistent logic, rather than a theory of real argumentation.


Argumentation Argumentation frameworks Normativity Rationality 

Mathematics Subject Classifications (2010)



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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of PhilosophyKarlsruheGermany

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