Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 279–302 | Cite as

Argument from analogy in legal rhetoric

  • Douglas WaltonEmail author


This paper applies recent work on scripts and stories developed as tools of evidential reasoning in artificial intelligence to model the use of argument from analogy as a rhetorical device of persuasion. The example studied is Gerry Spence’s closing argument in the case of Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corporation, said to be the most persuasive closing argument ever used in an American trial. It is shown using this example how argument from analogy is based on a similarity premise where similarity between two cases is modeled using the device of a story scheme from the hybrid theory of legal evidential reasoning (Bex in Arguments, stories and criminal evidence: a formal hybrid theory. Springer, Dordrecht 2011). It is shown how the rhetorical strategy of Spence’s argumentation in the closing argument interweaves argument from analogy with explanation through three levels.


Similarity Argumentation Explanation The Carneades Argumentation System 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Assumption University Chair in Argumentation Studies, Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR)University of WindsorWindsorCanada

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