Argumentation Schemes: Compendium templates for Critical Thinking

You recognise a piece of music as rap, 50's rock'n roll, opera or punk as soon as it starts: it has structural properties that you have learnt to recognise. By analogy, Argumentation Schemes are 'patterns' for constructing and analysing arguments, and as these get familiar, you'll start hearing and reading differently as you listen to a debate on the radio, watch a documentary, or engage with a learning resource.

A mental palette of argument schemes will help you spot when someone is making a certain kind of 'move' in a debate: you're better equipped to critique it. It'll also help when you have to put together your own case.

Argument mapping tools render these moves as a visual palette of schemes, so we've released this set of schemes for you to drag+drop into Compendium to help you analyse your own and others' thinking.

This comes from my work to better understand how the Compendium IBIS mapping we do with teams in the context of wicked problems (both real-time and async. mapping) can be choreographed with more structured argument mapping schemes such as these. I see an interesting dance in which one can move fluidly between these, which I started to sketch at a talk I gave to the Dundee ARG team recently.

One idea is that via Dialogue Mapping, we can map a naturalistic discussion in IBIS, but choose to drill down to examine a “Pro–supports–Position” link in more detail to expose the implicit substructure of this claim (eg. using a tool like Rationale or Araucaria). Conversely, when a scheme draws attention to assumptions (eg. via Critical Questions) then one is potentially opening up a new discussion which could be captured as one deliberates, for instance, the level of agreement between experts, or between expert testimony and objective evidence.

Another idea is that Conversational Modelling IBIS templates could be used to elicit the information needed to populate a particular Argumentation Scheme. The hypothesis is that people may find it easier simply to answer a set of Questions rather than complete an Araucaria-style diagram. As a well-structured map, a completed IBIS template can then be transformed into another representation as required.

Related Links:
Compendium templates for Critical Thinking
Seminar given to the Univ. Dundee Argumentation Research Group
>>> ARG slides [33Mb]

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