Keynote sessions ECA Rome 2022

Chris Reed, University of Dundee, UK


Wed, Sep 28, 2022, 14:10-15:40 (chair: Serena Villata)

Data is joyous. It delivers challenges and motivations; it trains intelligence both natural and artificial; and it demonstrates the limits of our theories and understanding. But it is tough to work with data. It needs principled schedules for collection; it needs robust infrastructure and validation techniques for theoretically-rigorous analysis; it needs secure, ethical, lawful, yet easy-to-access curation; and it needs innovative means of navigation, verification and interrogation. Over the past two decades, the Centre for Argument Technology has been advocating the importance of data in the study of argumentation, particularly at the interface between theory and practice. Working with partners including the BBC, the UN, IBM, local and central governments, judiciaries, intelligence agencies, banks, healthcare organisations and more, ARG-tech has developed a broad range of solutions to practical problems, but more importantly has also pioneered techniques and approaches that can help translate cutting-edge results across the enormous diversity of argumentation research into concrete benefits for individuals and for society.


Catarina Dutilh Novaes, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL


Thu, Sep 29, 2022, 14:30-16:00, aula 2 (chair: Jan Albert van Laar)

portrait official Catarina Dutilh Novaes
Can arguments change minds? It is reasonable to think that they can: by engaging in the (presumably rational) process of carefully considering reasons in favor or against a given position or view, we should update our beliefs accordingly. However, a wealth of empirical evidence seems to suggest that arguments are in fact not very efficient tools to change minds. What to make of these radically different appreciations of the mind-changing potential of arguments? To address this issue, it seems that we need to look beyond the content of arguments alone: we must also take into account the broader contexts in which they occur, in particular the propagation of messages across attention networks, and the choices that agents must make between alternative potential sources of content and information. These choices are very much influenced by perceptions of reliability and trustworthiness, which means that the source of the argument may be even more decisive than its content when it comes to how persuasive it will be for a given person. In a nutshell: arguments may well be able to change minds, but only under conducive, favorable socio-epistemic conditions. In this presentation, I turn to a three-tiered model of epistemic exchange that I’ve been developing over the past years (Dutilh Novaes, 2020) to (hopefully) shed light on the mechanisms involved in these processes and the conditions under which arguments can change minds. I illustrate these mechanisms with two concrete examples of real people who have undergone radical epistemic transformations where arguments played a significant role: Derek Black, former white supremacist, and Megan Phelps-Roper, former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, a religious sect classified as a hate group.

Harvey Siegel, University of Miami, US

ARGUING WITH ARGUMENTS: ARGUMENT QUALITY AND ARGUMENTATIVE NORMS (or, every theory in its place: the virtues of the epistemic theory)

Fri, Sep 30, 2022, 14:30-16:00, aula 2 (chair: Fabio Paglieri)

‘Argument’ has multiple meanings and referents in contemporary argumentation theory. Theorists are well aware of this, but often fail to acknowledge it in their theories. In what follows I distinguish several senses of ‘argument’, and argue that important theories are largely correct about some senses of the term but not others. In doing so I hope to show that apparent theoretical rivals are better seen as collaborators or partners, rather than rivals, in the multi-disciplinary effort to understand ‘argument’, arguments, and argumentation in all their varieties. I argue as well for a pluralistic approach to argument evaluation and argumentative norms, since arguments and argumentation can be legitimately evaluated along several dimensions, and for the conceptual priority of epistemic norms.

Plenary Panel, Thu, Sep 29, 2022, 17:30-18:30 (aula 2)


Speakers: Marcin Lewinski, Frank Zenker (chair: Steve Oswald)

Organized by the APPLY COST action CA-17132, European Network for Argumentation and Public Policy Analysis (

17:30-17:35     Introduction (Steve Oswald & Marcin Lewinski)

17:35-17:55     Norms of public argumentation: the state-of-the-art (Frank Zenker)

17:55-18:15     On the normativity of argumentative speech acts (Marcin Lewinski)

18:15-18:30     Q/A session and concluding remarks