Formal Methods in Legal Reasoning

In practice as well as in academia legal arguments take form of a rather unstructured text, either written or spoken, formulated in natural language. It has been so ever since the first legal arguments appeared in the history and has been justifiable by the very fact that the text presented in natural language offers the most convenient way to express and preserve legal arguments for both – the creator of the argument (or the transmitter) and the consumer (or the recipient).

Expressed in such a form legal arguments are transmitted by those means of human communication that are the most natural and easily understandable. There, however, are serious harmful consequences arising out of this situation, the most significant of them being the ambiguity of the information communicated in this way and its low comprehensibility for the current information and communication technologies. While it is possible to accept that law itself is a system with certain degree of fuzziness, this does not imply that arguments formulated within the system should be fuzzy as well. In fact, the opposite is true, since it is desirable to achieve such a framework for the argumentation in which no space for ambiguity would be left.

It is the goal of the “Formal Methods in Legal Reasoning” stream to provide a platform for discussing alternative means of structuring and presenting legal arguments and reasoning leading to the disambiguation of such a communication and increase the scope for its possible automatic processing while preserving its natural form and general intelligibility.

It should be stressed out that formal methods of structuring legal arguments should not alienate the field of legal argumentation and reasoning from the common producers and consumers, but to make the argumentation and reasoning more accessible, understandable and useful.

The scope of the stream includes, but is not limited to, the following areas of research:

  • formal and quantitative models of legal reasoning
  • logical tools in designing legal arguments
  • argumentation schemes, models of legal inference
  • mathematical and computational tools for modelling arguments and reasoning
  • evidence, burdens of persuasion and proof
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