An argumentation framework for contested cases of statutory interpretation

Fabrizio Macagno, Douglas Walton, Giovanni Sartor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes an argumentation-based procedure for legal interpretation, by reinterpreting the traditional canons of textual interpretation in terms of argumentation schemes, which are then classified, formalized, and represented through argument visualization and evaluation tools. The problem of statutory interpretation is framed as one of weighing contested interpretations as pro and con arguments. The paper builds an interpretation procedure by formulating a set of argumentation schemes that can be used to comparatively evaluate the types of arguments used in cases of contested statutory interpretation in law. A simplified version of the Carneades Argumentation System is applied in a case analysis showing how the procedure works. A logical model for statutory interpretation is finally presented, covering pro-tanto and all-things-considered interpretive conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-91
Number of pages40
JournalArtificial Intelligence and Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Argumentation systems
  • Interpreting statutes
  • Ordinary language meaning
  • Argument from purpose
  • Abductive reasoning
  • Argumentation schemes


Dive into the research topics of 'An argumentation framework for contested cases of statutory interpretation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this