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10 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 5 (2001)

handle is hein.journals/infctel10 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communications Technology Law, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2001
EDITORIAL
D. M. PETERSON
School of Computer Science and School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham,
UK
J. A. BARNDEN
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
E. NISSAN
School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, University of Greenwich, London, UK
One of the interesting things about legal reasoning is that it challenges logic to
broaden its scope. Logic began in ancient Greece as the theory of argument and
debate, and in recent years it has made great advances through the application
of a particular method. This is the method of the formal system, in which rules
are used to manipulate syntactic structures written in a well-defined formal
notation. The modern application of this method to logic began in the late 19th
century (though its roots go further back), and has meant the distancing of logic
from rhetoric and its alignment with mathematics. Generally speaking, the
formal method works best under particular conditions: when we have certain
knowledge of our premises; when one factor in an argument does not override
another; when each step in an argument is independent; and when our terms are
free of ambiguity, nuance and vagueness. And of course, in real, everyday
reasoning these conditions seldom obtain. The formal method, then, may be a
discovery but it is also a decision, and the question arises as to whether this
decision has narrowed the scope of logic in order to increase its power and
clarity. Accordingly, when we apply logic to a real life domain such as legal
reasoning or scientific enquiry, we may encounter a tension between the de-
mands of formal clarity and elegance on the one hand and those of the details
and realities of the domain on the other: optimists claiming that formal systems
can be extended so as to capture some of the relevant 'rough ground'; and
pessimists claiming that we need to use alternative methods. The issue comes
into particular focus when techniques of artificial intelligence (Al) are applied in
order to model or support legal reasoning, since this requires that the reasoning
in question be specified and represented in detail. And here we find a divide
between a 'neat' school which favours extensions of classical logic, such as
deontic and non-monotonic logics, formal argumentation frameworks and for-
mal dialogue games, and a 'scruffy' school which favours methods such as
case-based reasoning and argument schemas.
ISSN 1360-0834 print/ISSN 1469-8404 online/01 /010005-03 @ 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/1360083012005542 0

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