This paper describes one way in which a precise reason model of precedent could be developed, based on the general idea that courts are constrained to reach a decision that is consistent with the assessment of the balance of reasons made in relevant earlier decisions. The account provided here has the additional advantage of showing how this reason model can be reconciled with the traditional idea that precedential constraint involves rules, as long as these rules are taken to be defeasible. (...) The account presented is firmly based on a body of work that has emerged in AI and Law. This work is discussed, and there is a particular discussion of approaches based on theory construction, and how that work relates to the model described in this paper. (shrink)
There is a growing interest in how people conceptualise the legal domain for the purpose of legal knowledge systems. In this paper we discuss four such conceptualisations (referred to as ontologies): McCarty's language for legal discourse, Stamper's norma formalism, Valente's functional ontology of law, and the ontology of Van Kralingen and Visser. We present criteria for a comparison of the ontologies and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the ontologies in relation to these criteria. Moreover, we critically review the criteria.
Norms provide a valuable mechanism for establishing coherent cooperative behaviour in decentralised systems in which there is no central authority. One of the most influential formulations of norm emergence was proposed by Axelrod :1095–1111, 1986). This paper provides an empirical analysis of aspects of Axelrod’s approach, by exploring some of the key assumptions made in previous evaluations of the model. We explore the dynamics of norm emergence and the occurrence of norm collapse when applying the model over extended durations. It (...) is this phenomenon of norm collapse that can motivate the emergence of a central authority to enforce laws and so preserve the norms, rather than relying on individuals to punish defection. Our findings identify characteristics that significantly influence norm establishment using Axelrod’s formulation, but are likely to be of importance for norm establishment more generally. Moreover, Axelrod’s model suffers from significant limitations in assuming that private strategies of individuals are available to others, and that agents are omniscient in being aware of all norm violations and punishments. Because this is an unreasonable expectation, the approach does not lend itself to modelling real-world systems such as online networks or electronic markets. In response, the paper proposes alternatives to Axelrod’s model, by replacing the evolutionary approach, enabling agents to learn, and by restricting the metapunishment of agents to cases where the original defection is observed, in order to be able to apply the model to real-world domains. This work can also help explain the formation of a “social contract” to legitimate enforcement by a central authority. (shrink)
The design and analysis of norms is a somewhat neglected topic in AI and Law, but this is not so in other areas of Computer Science. In recent years powerful techniques to model and analyse norms have been developed in the Multi-Agent Systems community, driven both by the practical need to regulate electronic institutions and open agent systems, and by a theoretical interest in mechanism design and normative systems. Agent based techniques often rely heavily on enforcing norms using the software (...) to prevent violation, but I will also discuss the use of sanctions and rewards, and the conditions under which compliance by autonomous agents (including humans) can be expected or encouraged without sanctions or rewards. In the course of the paper a suggested framework for the exploration of these issues is developed. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that to explain and resolve some kinds of disagreement we need to go beyond what logic alone can provide. In particular, following Perelman, I argue that we need to consider how arguments are ascribed different strengths by different audiences, according to how accepting these arguments promotes values favoured by the audience to which they are addressed. I show how we can extend the standard framework for modelling argumentation systems to allow different audiences to be represented. (...) I also show how this formalism can explain how some disputes can be resolved while in others the parties can only agree to differ. I illustrate this by consideration of a legal example. Finally, I make some suggestions as to where these values come from, and how they can be used to explain differences across jurisdictions, and changes in views over time. (shrink)