Argument Molecules: A Functional Representation of Argument Structure

Lawrence Birnbaum

Understanding an utterance in an argument crucially requires determining the evidential relations it bears to prior and subsequent propositions in the argument (Birnbaum et al., 1980; Cohen, 1981). The memory representation of an argument should, accordingly, indicate which propositions a given proposition counts as evidence for (a support relation) or against (an attack relation), and which propositions support or attack it in turn. The representation of an argument can thus be viewed as a network of propositions connected by support or attack relations (an argument graph). Although this sort of representation can be motivated simply by the need to represent the content of an argument, it seems natural to ask whether such argument graphs might further possess any useful structural properties, abstracted from the specific propositions they relate.

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