Who we are
Tour of the Programme - (No text only version)

Project Elenchos

Project Elenchos is dedicated to the analysis of arguments concerning the justification of democracy, advanced by philosophers and political theorists, and the presentation of these arguments in an interactive argumentation base.
Project Elenchos aims at developing a model for the presentation of European cultural heritage in text using innovative artificial intelligence techniques, so that the European cultural heritage will be accessible to both specialists and non-experts. In this respect the Project explores new ways for representing philosophical arguments and their structure to the user, as well as of providing an interactive environment which would help the argumentation exchange between computer and user.

There are three main tasks: First, we built a Dynamic Argument Map comprising three argument trees presenting three different arguments for democracy:

The argument from the Intrinsic justification of Democracy,
The argument from the Epistemic justification of Democracy,
The argument from the Instrumental justification of Democracy.

The representation of the argumentation follows a top-down classification strategy, as opposed to the bottom-up strategy that is followed in the representation of arguments according to Archelogos' methodology. The primary objective of this method is to create a 'map' of the arguments. The user can navigate through the different argumentative strategies as well as the steps of each argument. This tool would help the user in gaining knowledge and understanding of the strategies followed by different philosophers towards the justification of a specific concept, and to map the variety of paths that have been followed in the argumentation in each specific area.

The research on the possible representational strategies of philosophical arguments aims at providing the structures for thematic and systematic (rather than historical) presentation of an area of theoretical research and argumentation. The representational technique of the database can be used for representing discourses in other theoretical fields and topics. In Elenchos this method of representing theoretical argumentation focuses on the relation between the different principles and premises from which philosophers have argued for the justification of democracy. The original philosophical sources where the presented arguments are defended are also available to the user. These sources and links to original works help in building a parallel understanding of the arguments in their philosophical context, thus enriching the educational value of the whole project. Finally, the user is also provided with a philosophical glossary on the concepts used in the presented arguments and sources.

The arguments concerning the justification of Democracy that are presented here are not extracted from a single original philosophical work but they represent three main arguments by means of which philosophers have given justification for democracy (or argued against it). This classification illustrates and clarifies the strategies followed by philosophers and political theorists in this area.

The Archelogos Team is collaborating with Dr Robertson's team and Dr Helen Pain's team in the Artificial Intelligence Department, Edinburgh University, in order to combine the Archelogos Argument-Analysis methodology with argumentation-software programmes. We also collaborate with the Centre des Recherches Philologiques, University of Lille, and Professor Andre Laks, on the incorporation of the exegetical tradition into the argumentation format.


There are two main aims in this experiment. First, starting with specific arguments for the justification of Democracy, we examine how they can be cast into an interactive format that the user could explore by engaging in an argument exchange with the computer. The second aim is to develop a top-down classification strategy, as opposed to the bottom-up method of Archelogos. Here the starting point is not the text, nor do we follow the sequence of exposition of the original author; rather we start with a philosophical topic and devise a method of presenting the main themes and the arguments in this theory, incorporating objections and counter-arguments into a single, unfolding, argumentation structure.

Argumentation Game

The second task is to reinforce the educational virtues of the representation of philosophical argumentation, and of theoretical argumentation in general, by developing the interaction between the user and the computer. Project Elenchos includes an interactive argumentation game where the user can confront and challenge the arguments for the justification of democracy given in each of the three justification trees that are presented. The computer puts forward the arguments presented in dialogical form, and, when asked, provides the user with elucidations, justifications and original texts on the theses it defends. Furthermore, the users can challenge any of the given premises or conclusions defended by the computer, and thus can shift the burden of proof, and can offer their own arguments. At the end of the game the user can trace the record of the steps followed in the argumentation by both sides, and detect the way that the arguments have been defended in the dialogue.



Main Site