Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 279–315

Causation in AI and Law



Reasoning about causation in fact is an essential element of attributing legal responsibility. Therefore, the automation of the attribution of legal responsibility requires a modelling effort aimed at the following: a thorough understanding of the relation between the legal concepts of responsibility and of causation in fact; a thorough understanding of the relation between causation in fact and the common sense concept of causation; and, finally, the specification of an ontology of the concepts that are minimally required for (automatic) common sense reasoning about causation. This article offers a worked-out example of the indicated analysis. Such example consists of: a definition of the legal concept of responsibility (in terms of liability and accountability); a definition of the legal concept of causation in fact (in terms of the initiation of physical processes by an agent and of the provision of reasons and/or opportunities to other agents); CausatiOnt, an AI-like ontology of the common sense (causal) concepts that are minimally needed for reasoning about the legal concept of causation in fact (in particular, the concepts of category, dimension, object, agent, process, event and act).


causation in fact common sense legal responsibility ontology 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Applied Ontology, Institute of Cognitive Science and TechnologyItalian National Research CouncilRomeItaly
  2. 2.Leibniz Center for Law, Faculty of LawUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Jurisprudence, Faculty of LawUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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