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A Dialogue System Specification for Explanation

28 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2012  

Douglas Walton

University of Windsor

Date Written: April 5, 2011


This paper builds a dialectical system of explanation with speech act rules that define the kinds of moves allowed, like requesting and offering an explanation. Pre and post- condition rules for the speech acts determine when a particular speech act can be put forward as a move in the dialogue, and what type of move or moves must follow it. A successful explanation has been achieved when there has been a transfer of understanding from the party giving the explanation to the party asking for it. The dialogue has an opening stage, an explanation stage and a closing stage. Whether a transfer of understanding has taken place is tested by a dialectical shift to an examination dialogue.

Keywords: explanation, speech acts, formal dialogue systems, understanding

Suggested Citation

Walton, Douglas, A Dialogue System Specification for Explanation (April 5, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Douglas Walton (Contact Author)

University of Windsor ( email )

401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4

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