Ethical Understanding: Recognizing and Using Belief Conflict In Narrative Processing

John F. Reeves

Belief conflict patterns (BCPs) are knowledge structures representing the understander’s moral attitude toward problematic interpretations of the events in a story. These structures are used to model interest in stories by contrasting the understanding of stories to the system’s beliefs about the characters and what they have done. Once recognized, BCPs provide a framework for interpreting the rest of the story, and a basis for identifying the theme of the story. The representation of reasons for the attitude that the understander has of characters are called character assessments. Character assessments form the basis for BCPs by giving the understander a prior attitude under which to judge the character’s actions. BCPs organize the subjective reasons that the understander has for why a goal success/failure for a character should or shouldn’t have occurred, and these reasons provide support for the problematic interpretation of the story events. A process model for BCP recognition and how thematic resolution is accomplished is presented. The role of BCPs in a program that models the interpretive understanding of a short ironic story is described.

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