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Title: Digital decision-making : using computational argumentation to support democratic processes
Author: Cartwright, Daniel Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 5700
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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One of the key questions facing governments around the world is that of how to increase and maintain the engagement of citizens in democratic processes. Recent thought, both within academia and government itself, has turned to the use of modern computational technology to provide citizens with access to democratic processes. Access to computer and Internet technology by the general public has vastly increased over the past decade, and this wide access is one of a number of motivations behind research into the provision of democratic tasks and processes online. The particular democratic process that forms the focus of this thesis is that of online opinion gathering in order to aid government decision making. The provision of mechanisms to gather and analyse public opinion is important to any government which claims to promote a fair and equal democracy, as decisions should be made in consideration of the views and opinions of the citizens of such a democracy. The work that comprises this thesis is motivated by existing research into harvesting opinion through a variety of online methods. The software tools available largely fall into one of two categories: Those which are not based on formal structure, and those which are based on an underlying formal model of argument. The work presented in this thesis aims to overcome the shortfalls inherent to both of these categories of tool in order to realise a software suite to support both the process of opinion gathering, and analysis of the resulting data. This is achieved through the implementation of computational models of argument from the research area of argumentation, with special consideration as to how these models can be used in implemented systems in a manner that allows laypersons to interact with them effectively. A particular model of argument which supports the process of practical reasoning is implemented in a web-based computer system, thus allowing for the collection of structured arguments which are later analysed according to formal models of argument visualisation and evaluation. The theories underlying the system are extended in order to allow for added expressivity, thus providing a mechanism for more life-like argument within a system which supports comprehensive computational analysis. Ultimately, the contributions of this thesis are a functional system to support an important part of the democratic process, and an investigation into how the underlying theories can be built upon and extended in order to promote expressive argumentation.
Supervisor: Atkinson, Katie M. ; Bench-Capon, Trevor J. M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: JF Political institutions (General) ; QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science