Rules and Precedents as Complementary Warrants

L. Karl Branting, Bruce W. Porter

This paper describes a model of the complementarity of rules and precedents in the classification task. Under this model, precedents assist rule-based reasoning by operationalizing abstract rule antecedents. Conversely, rules assist case-based reasoning through case elaboration, the process of inferring case facts in order to increase the similarity between cases, and term reformulation, the process of replacing a term whose precedents only weakly match a case with terms whose precedents strongly match the case. Fully exploiting this complementarity requires a control strategy characterized by impartiality, the absence of arbitrary ordering restrictions on the use of rules and precedents. An impartial control strategy was implemented in GREBE in the domain of Texas worker’s compensation law. In a preliminary evaluation, GREBE’s performance was found to be as good or slightly better than the performance of law students on the same task.

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