I am an academic who is interested in how people reason, how this reasoning can be captured in formal models and how it can be supported and improved using smart technologies. My main areas of investigation are the computational, philosophical and linguistic aspects of argumentation, linking mathematical models with more natural representations of argument and discourse.

In addition to working on argumentation theory, I am also keen to improve argumentation practice by developing tools that can be used to disseminate and analyse complex reasoning involving lots of data. Examples of application areas are legal & forensic reasoning and opinions on the Web.

I am currently working at the Department of Information and Computing Science of the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.


In September I organised a workshop on "Models of Rational Proof in Criminal Law", together with Henry Prakken and Anne Ruth Mackor). The workshop took place at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Bielefeld (Germany), and was attended by an variety of international researchers from various fields. See the workshop page for more information.

The RISK project, a collaboration of the Dutch National Police, Utrecht University (Floris Bex) and Leiden University (Aske Plaat and Frank Takes), has delivered its first results. Students of Utrecht University have developed an multi-touch interface for collaborative risk assessment, and Utrecht University MSc student Bas Hovestad has written a thesis on the risk assessment process at the Dutch National Police. See the project page for more information.

My paper, an integrated theory of causal scenarios and evidential arguments, won the best paper award at the 15th conference on AI & Law in San Diego!

Featured publications

F.J. Bex (2015) An integrated theory of causal scenarios and evidential arguments. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, pp. 13 - 22. ACM Press. [PDF]

M. van Zee, F.J. Bex & S. Ghanavati (2015) Rationalization of Goal Models in GRL using Formal Argumentation Proceedings of the 23rd IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE 2015), to appear. [PDF].

F.J. Bex, J. Lawrence, M. Snaith & C. Reed. (2013) Implementing the Argument Web. Communications of the ACM 56(10): 66-73. [PDF]

Causal stories and evidential arguments

For my dissertation in 2009 (summary), I developed a formal theory that tells judges and police investigators how they can analyse and communicate their reasoning about a case using arguments and stories. This hybrid theory of arguments and stories has been published in book and in journal form.

In a recent paper, An integrated theory of causal scenarios and evidential arguments, I show how stories and arguments can be further integrated by considering stories as arguments. This integrated theory presents a cleaner and simpler logical model than the original hybrid theory, and is fully compatible with well-known argumentation frameworks from AI.

The Argument Web

The Argument Web is technology engineered into the heart of the Web to encourage debate and facilitate good argument online. Using Semantic Web technology, the Argument Web makes the linked arguments and opinions across the Web searchable, navigable and extendible with a variety of tools, such as OVA for argument annotation, Arvina for engaging with the Argument Web through dialogue, the AIFdb search interface for searching the Argument Web, and the Argublogging tool for connecting to the Argument Web through blogging.

More information about the Argument Web and its accompanying tools can be found on the Argument Interchange website, and in recent papers in Communications of the ACM and the Journal of Web Semantics.

Arguing with narratives

Postmodernism says that we teach people through stories and narratives rather than by giving them facts and rules. But how exactly do these stories persuade us? This is a question I've been trying to answer together with Trevor Bench-Capon. In a recent paper, Arguments as a new perspective on character motive in stories, we discuss how stories such as simple fables and parables can be used convey character motives and values.

If you're interested in in the place of stories in AI, I'd recommend to take a look at the special issue of Literary & Linguistic Computing on Computational Models of Narrative, which I co-edited with Mark Finlayson, Pablo Gervás and Deniz Yuret.