A theoretical framework for computer models of cooperative dialogue, acknowledging multi-agent conflict
This thesis descAes a theoretical framework for modelling cooperative dialogue. The linguistic
theory is a version of speech act theory adopted from Cohen and Levesque, in which dialogue utterances
are generated and interpreted pragmatically in the context of a theory of rational interaction. The latter is
expressed as explicitly and formally represented principles of rational agenthood and cooperative
interaction. The focus is the development of strategic principles of multi-agent interaction as such a
basis for cooperative dialogue. In contrast to the majority of existing work, these acknowledge the
Positive role of conflict to multi-agent cooperation. and make no assumptions regarding the benevolence
and sincerity of agents. The result is a framework wherein agents can resolve conflicts by negotiation.
It is a preliminary stage to the future building of computer models of cooperative dialogue for both HCI
and DAI, which will therefore be more widely and generally applicable than those currently in existence.
The theory of conflict and cooperation is expressed in the different patterns of mental states
which characterise multi-agent conflict, cooperation and indifference as three alternative postural
relations. Agents can recognise and potentially create these. Dialogue actions are the strategic tools
with which mental states can be manipulated, whilst acknowledging that agents are autonomous over
their mental states; they have control over what they acquire and reveal in dialogue. Strategic principles
of belief and goal adoption are described in terms of the relationships between autonomous agents'
beliefs, goals, preferences, and interests, and the relation of these to action. Veracity, mendacity,
concealing and revealing are defined as properties of acts. The role of all these elements in reasoning
about dialogue action and conflict resolution, is tester in analyses of two example dialogues; a record of
a real trade union negotiation and an extract from "Othello" by Shakespeare.