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In informal logic and philosophy, an argument map is a visual representation of the structure of an argument. It includes the components of an argument such as a main contention, premises, co-premises, objections, rebuttals, and lemmas. Typically an argument map is a “box and arrow” diagram with boxes corresponding to propositions and arrows corresponding to relationships such as evidential support.
Argument maps are commonly used in the context of teaching and applying critical thinking. The purpose of mapping is to uncover the logical structure of arguments, identify unstated assumptions, evaluate the support an argument offers for a conclusion, and aid understanding of debates. Argument maps are often designed to support deliberation of issues, ideas and arguments in wicked problems.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 History and current applications
- 3 Standards
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
This is a simple argument map. The conclusion is shown at the top, and the boxes linked to it represent supporting reasons, which comprise one or more premises. The reason, 1A, comprising two premises 1A-a and 1A-b, support the conclusion:
Here is a more complex map. The objection 1A weakens the conclusion, while the reason 2A supports premise 1A-b of the objection:
Evidence that argument mapping improves critical thinking ability
There is empirical evidence that the skills developed in argument-mapping-based critical thinking courses substantially transfer to critical thinking done without argument maps. Alvarez’s meta-analysis found that such critical thinking courses produced gains of around 0.70 SD, about twice as much as standard critical-thinking courses. The tests used in the reviewed studies were standard critical-thinking tests.
How argument mapping helps with critical thinking
The use of argument mapping has occurred within a number of disciplines, such as philosophy, management reporting, military and intelligence analysis, and public debates.
Logical Structure: Argument maps display an argument’s logical structure more clearly than does the standard linear way of presenting arguments.
Critical Thinking Concepts: In learning to argument map, students master such key critical thinking concepts as “reason”, “objection”, “premise”, “conclusion”, “inference”, “rebuttal”, “unstated assumption”, “co-premise”, “strength of evidence”, “logical structure”, “independent evidence”, etc. Mastering such concepts is not just a matter of memorizing their definitions or even being able to apply them correctly; it is also understanding why the distinctions these words mark are important and using that understanding to guide one’s reasoning.
Visualization: Humans are highly visual and argument mapping may provide students with a basic set of visual schemas with which to understand argument structures.
More Careful Reading and Listening: Learning to argument map teaches people to read and listen more carefully, and highlights for them the key questions “What is the logical structure of this argument?” and “How does this sentence fit into the larger structure?” In-depth cognitive processing is thus more likely.
More Careful Writing and Speaking: Argument mapping helps people to state their reasoning and evidence more precisely, because the reasoning and evidence must fit explicitly into the map’s logical structure.
Literal and Intended Meaning: Often, many statements in an argument do not precisely assert what the author meant. Learning to argument map enhances the complex skill of distinguishing literal from intended meaning.
Externalization: Writing something down and reviewing what one has written often helps reveal gaps and clarify one’s thinking. Because the logical structure of argument maps is clearer than that of linear prose, the benefits of mapping will exceed those or ordinary writing.
Anticipating Replies: Important to critical thinking is anticipating objections and considering the plausibility of different rebuttals. Mapping develops this anticipation skill, and so improves analysis.
History and current applications
The philosophical origins and tradition of argument mapping
In the Elements of Logic, which was published in 1826 and issued in many subsequent editions, Archbishop Richard Whately gave probably the first form of an argument map, introducing it with the suggestion that “many students probably will find it a very clear and convenient mode of exhibiting the logical analysis of the course of argument, to draw it out in the form of a Tree, or Logical Division”.
However, the technique did not become widely used, possibly because for complex arguments, it involved much writing and rewriting of the premises.
Legal philosopher and theorist John Henry Wigmore produced maps of legal arguments using numbered premises in the early 20th century, based in part on the ideas of 19th century philosopher Henry Sidgwick who used lines to indicate relations between terms.
Stephen Toulmin, in a groundbreaking and influential book The Uses of Argument, identified several elements to an argument which has been generalized. The Toulmin diagram is widely used in educational critical teaching.
In 1998 a substantial series of maps released by Robert E. Horn (1998) stimulated widespread interest in the technique.
Anglophone argument diagramming in the 20th century
Dealing with the failure of formal reduction of informal argumentation, English speaking argumentation theory developed diagrammatic approaches to informal reasoning over a period of fifty years.
Michael Scriven developed an argument diagram in 1976.
In 1988, David Kelley proposed a structured diagram technique with numbered premises, and arrows indicating inferential relations. The premises were to be listed at the side of the diagram for reference. The three forms here of an argument are serial, additive (or joint), and non-additive (or convergent), respectively. Kelley also had divergent arguments, where a single premise could act as a reason for multiple lines of argument. Kelley diagrams are also often shown as “ball and stick” diagrams.
In the 1990s, Tim van Gelder developed a series of computer applications that permitted the premises to be fully stated and edited in the diagram, rather than in a legend.  This also permitted reasons to be edited for clarity according to the Principle of charity, whereby one reconstructs arguments so they are consistent with the best interpretation of authorial intentions. The first program, ReasonAble, was superseded by two subsequent programs, bCisive and Rationale. In 2009, van Gelder sold the software rights to Kritische Denken in Holland. Rationale permits reasons comprising one or more premises. This forces the arguer or analyst to identify the missing (unstated) premises based the rule that there should be no danglers, that is, terms that only appear in one claim box of an argument (see Enthymeme). Here is a basic Rationale argument map:
Reasons consist of premises that support a final or intermediate conclusion. In this map, premises 2A-a and 2A-b support the intermediate conclusion 1A-a, which is a co-premise with 1A-b for the final conclusion.
Argument maps can also map objections to conclusions or premises:
In this map, objections are offered to premise 2A-b and also to the conclusion directly.
Difficulties with the philosophical tradition
It has traditionally been hard to separate teaching critical thinking from the philosophical tradition of teaching logic and method, and most critical thinking textbooks have been written by philosophers. Informal logic textbooks are replete with philosophical examples, but it is unclear whether this approach transfers to non-philosophy students. There appears to be little statistical effect after such classes. Argument mapping, however, has a measurable effect according to Alvarez.
Argument maps have been applied in many areas, but foremost in educational, academic and business settings. It has also been proposed that argument mapping has a great potential to evolve how we understand and execute democracy, in reference to the ongoing evolution of e-democracy.
Argument Interchange Format
The Argument Interchange Format, AIF, is an international effort to develop a representational mechanism for exchanging argument resources between research groups, tools, and domains using a semantically rich language. AIF-RDF, is the extended ontology represented in the Resource Description Framework Schema (RDFS) semantic language. Though AIF is still something of a moving target, it is settling down.
Legal Knowledge Interchange Format
The Legal Knowledge Interchange Format (LKIF), developed in the European ESTRELLA project, is an XML schema for rules and arguments, designed with the goal of becoming a standard for representing and interchanging policy, legislation and cases, including their justificatory arguments, in the legal domain. LKIF builds on and uses the Web Ontology Language (OWL) for representing concepts and includes a reusable basic ontology of legal concepts.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Argument maps.|
- Argumentation theory
- Concept map
- Flow (policy debate)
- Informal fallacy
- Information graphics
- Mind Map
- Tim van Gelder
- Facione, Peter A. (2010). Think Critically. Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-205-73845-8. OCLC 457158349.
Fisher, Alec (2004) . The Logic of Real Arguments. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-65481-4.
Fisher, Alec; Scriven, Michael (1997). Critical Thinking: Its Definition and Assessment. University of East Anglia, Centre for Research in Critical Thinking. ISBN 978-0-9531796-0-2. OCLC 39145966.
Kelley, David (1988). The Art of Reasoning. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-95613-9. OCLC 16984878.
Moore, Brooke Noel, and Richard Parker. 1991. Critical thinking. 3rd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Pub. Co.
Walton, Douglas N. (1989). Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argumentation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-37925-0.
- Álvarez Ortiz 2007, pp. 69–70 et seq
- Whately, Richard (1834). Elements of logic: Comprising the substance of the article in the Encyclopædia metropolitana: with additions, etc (5th ed.).
- Wigmore, John Henry (1913). The Principles of Judicial Proof: As Given by Logic, Psychology, and General Experience, and Illustrated in Judicial Trials. Little Brown.
- Goodwin, Jean (2000). "Wigmore's Chart Method". Informal Logic 20 (3): 223–243.
- Toulmin, Stephen E. (2003) . The Uses of Argument. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-53483-3.
- Simon, S.; Erduran, S.; Osborne, J. (2006). "Learning to teach argumentation: Research and development in the science classroom". International Journal of Science Education 28 (2-3): 235–260. doi:10.1080/09500690500336957. as PDF
- Holmes, Bob (10 July 1999). "Beyond words". New Scientist (2194).
- Scriven, Michael (1976). Reasoning. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-055882-3. OCLC 2800373.
- Kelley, David (1988). The Art of Reasoning. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-95613-9. OCLC 16984878.
- van Gelder, Tim (2007). "The rationale for Rationale™". Law, Probability and Risk 6 (1-4): 23–42. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm032.
- ter Berg, Timo; van Gelder, Tim; Patterson, Fiona; Teppema, Sytske (2009). Critical Thinking: Reasoning and Communicating with Rationale™. Pearson Education Benelux. ISBN 9789043018012. OCLC 301884530.
- Álvarez Ortiz 2007
- Paul Kirschner, et al. (2003). Visualizing argumentation: software tools for collaborative and educational. Springer. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
- Hilbert, Martin (April 2009). "The Maturing Concept of E-Democracy: From E-Voting and Online Consultations to Democratic Value Out of Jumbled Online Chatter". Journal of Information Technology and Politics 6 (2): 87–110. doi:10.1080/19331680802715242. as PDF
- "Contributing to the Argument Interchange Format". Retrieved 2009-07-09.
- van Gelder, Tim. "What is Argument Mapping?". timvangelder.com.
- Interview with Tim van Gelder discussing Douglas Engelbart and the emergence of argument mapping software
- Facione, Peter A.; Facione, Noreen C. (2007). Thinking and reasoning in human decision making: the method of argument and heuristic analysis. California Academic Press. book website
- Harrell, Maralee (June 2005). "Using Argument Diagramming Software in the Classroom" (PDF). Teaching Philosophy 28 (2): 163–177. doi:10.5840/teachphil200528222.
- Kirschner, Paul A.; Buckingham-Shum, Simon J.; Carr, Chad S. (2003). Visualizing Argumentation: Software Tools for Collaborative and Educational Sense-Making. Springer. ISBN 978-1-85233-664-6. book website
- Twardy, Charles R. (June 2004). "Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking". Teaching Philosophy 27 (2): 95–116. doi:10.5840/teachphil200427213.
- Verheij, Bart (2005). Virtual Arguments: On the Design of Argument Assistants for Lawyers and Other Arguers. Information Technology & Law Series 6. T.M.C. Asser Press. ISBN 9789067041904. OCLC 59617214.
- Freeman, James B. (1991). Dialectics and the Macrostructure of Arguments: A Theory of Argument Structure. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-013390-5.
- Scheuer, O.; Loll, F.; Pinkwart, N.; McLaren, B.M. (2010). "Computer-supported argumentation: A review of the state of the art". International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 5 (1): 43–102. doi:10.1007/s11412-009-9080-x. as PDF
- ter Berg, T. et al. (2009) Critical Thinking: Reasoning and Communicating with Rationale (also in Dutch)
- Argumentation Research Group blog
- Argument & Computation – a new research journal
- Argumap Yahoo Group
- Álvarez Ortiz, Claudia María (2007). Does philosophy improve critical thinking skills? (PDF) (MA). Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne.
Argument mapping software
- Araucaria (open source, cross platform/java)
- Argumentative (open source, windows); supports single-user, graphical argumentation
- bCisive (commercial, Windows); supports reasoning and decision making by mapping decision problems, options and arguments.
- Carneades (open source, cross platform/java fx); Argument mapping and evaluation, using proof standards; XML argument exchange
- DeMMaTTouL [in Spanish] (open source, Linux, Windows, Mac); argument mapping using the Toulmin Model, export to HTML (Download from Sourceforge)
- Rationale (commercial, Windows); supports simple "Reasoning" maps and more advanced "Analysis" maps
- PIRIKA (open source, Linux, Windows);PIRIKA (PIlot for the RIght Knowledge and Argument): A Versatile Argumentation System based on the Logic of Multiple-Valued Argumentation
- bCisive Online
- Deliberatorium (MIT)
- Riyarchy (Collaborative argument map for outlining and ending debates)
- Theorymaps (A causal & theory mapping tool designed specifically to map out arguments presented in an empirical research article)
- The Scholarly Ontologies Project
- ArgDF is a Semantic Web-Based Argumentation System
- Argument Mapping in Your Subject — resource site for college-level educators integrating argument mapping into their teaching