Ethical Realism

December 6, 2012

Argument Maps vs Other Argument Diagrams

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 7:16 am
Tags: , , , ,

I believe that argument maps as I understand them are superior to other types of argument diagrams. I will describe four different kinds of argument diagrams, then explain why argument maps seem to be the best.

Four different kinds of argument diagrams.

The four types of argument diagrams are Hurley diagrams, Toulmin diagrams, ordinary argument diagrams, and argument maps. In order to understand how they differ, let’s consider a supporting argument and objection they can all represent.

Supporting argument

First, let’s consider the supporting argument:

  1. Socrates is a man.
  2. All men are mortal.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Hurley diagrams

hurley diagram

Hurley diagrams are briefly taught in the most popular logic textbook: A Concise Introduction to Logic by Patrick Hurley.

Each circle represents a different statement of the argument. The statements of the argument were already numbered above. 1 and 2 are the first two premises, and 3 is the conclusion. The bracket makes it clear that both premises are a single argument for the conclusion.

Note that Hurley diagrams are not capable of representing a supporting argument and objection at the same time.

Toulmin diagrams

toulmin diagram

Toulmin diagrams require that we don’t simply give deductive arguments, and that some sort of justification is discussed other than a mere deduction. For that reason we write down the “grounds” that support the deductive premises. The deductive premises are mentioned in the “warrant” area. The conclusion is written as the “claim.”

Notice that Toulmin diagrams don’t make it clear when we have an extended argument. Sometimes a specific premise is justified by an argument, but this diagram does not make it clear when a specific premises is supported by an additional argument. In the specific case of this argument the grounds is technically a justification to the premise that states “all men are mortal.”

Ordinary argument diagrams

ordinary diagram

Ordinary argument diagrams are almost identical to Hurley diagrams. Just like the Hurley diagrams, each circle represents a different statement, the first two circles represent the premises, and the final one represents the conclusion. The main difference is that a line is often used to make it clear that the premises support the conclusion instead of a bracket. Additionally, ordinary argument diagrams are capable of modeling both arguments and objections within a single diagram, which Hurley diagrams can’t do.

Argument maps

argument map

Argument maps are much like ordinary argument diagrams, except the statements are written in boxes, the boxes are labeled, the arrows are labeled, and premises are given a color. It is made clear that both premises are a single argument for the conclusion because they are connected by a curved line that leads to a single arrow. We know that the premises are given as a reason to believe the conclusion because the term “supports” is written alongside the arrow.

Objections

Now let’s consider how the four different diagrams can represent an objection to a supporting argument.

The supporting argument is the following:

  1. If Socrates is a dog, then Socrates has a tail.
  2. Socrates is a dog.
  3. Therefore, Socrates has a tail.

The objection to the supporting argument is the following:

  1. Socrates is a human.
  2. No humans are dogs.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is not a dog.

Hurley diagrams

Hurley diagrams are incapable of representing objections as distinct from supporting arguments. It’s not possible for them to represent a supporting argument and objection within a single diagram.

Toulmin diagrams

toulmin diagram

The Toulmin model requires that we give additional support to the supporting argument because it requires more than a mere deduction from premises, it asks us to give a qualifier (that not all dogs actually have tails because it could be removed), and it is capable of giving the objection in the “rebuttal” section.

However, note that the Toulmin model does not make the following clear:

  1. The “grounds” is an additional argument to the premise that states that “if Socrates is a dog, then he has a tail.” This would be useful information, but it’s not provided.
  2. The objection is technically against the premise that states “Socrates is a dog.” This would be useful information, but it’s not provided either.

Ordinary diagrams

ordinary diagram

The ordinary argument diagram is also capable of representing the supporting argument and objection simultaneously, and it is capable of making it clear that the objection is against a specific premise (premise 2: Socrates is a dog). Premise 4 and 5 are the premises of the objection. In this case the objection has an arrow with a strike through it, which is pointing towards the premise they are against. It is clear that there is a single objection consisting of two premises because of the line that connects both of the premises.

Argument maps

argument map

The argument map is capable of representing the positive argument and objection within a single diagram. The boxes containing the objection are pink to make it clear that they’re part of an objection, and the word “opposes” is written alongside the arrow to make it clear that they are against a specific premise that the arrow points to. It is clear that the objection consists of a single argument with two premises because there’s a line connecting them both to a single arrow.

Why argument maps seem to be the best.

Just based on the argument diagrams above, argument maps are capable of doing everything the other diagrams do, but they are much easier to read because of the colors, the fact that the premises are written in boxes, and because the boxes and arrows are labeled. In particular, argument maps can help make the following clear:

  1. when multiple premises form a single argument.
  2. when a statement is a premise or a conclusion.
  3. what statement is supported by premises.
  4. when premises are used as an objection.
  5. what specific statement an objection is against.

Of the four types of diagrams, Hurley diagrams and Toulmin diagrams are the most inferior:

Hurley diagrams make it clear when there are multiple premises for a single argument, when a statement is a premise or conclusion, and what statement is supported by premises. However, it doesn’t tell us what premises are used as an objection or the specific statement the objection is against.

Toulmin diagrams can tell us when multiple premises form a single argument, when a statement is a premise or conclusion, and when premises are used to form an objection. However, Toulmin diagrams don’t always tell us when a specific statement is supported by an extended argument, or what specific statement an objection is against.

Here is a table that summarizes many of the results:

A reason to favor the type of diagram. Hurley diagrams Toulmin diagrams Ordinary diagrams Argument maps
The statements are written on the diagram. No Yes No Yes
It states when multiple premises form a single argument. Yes Yes Yes Yes
It clarifies when a statement is a premise or conclusion. Yes Yes Yes Yes
It clarifies what specific statement is supported by premises. Yes No Yes Yes
It states when premises are used as an objection. No Yes Yes Yes
It clarifies what specific statement is opposed by an objection. No No Yes Yes

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4 Comments »

  1. Round three, we are trying to determine if Socrates was a dog. I do not wish to belittle your debating advice to kindergarteners, but, wouldn’t it excite students a lot more to ask if Jesus, Muhammed, Moses, or Adam were real historical figures. Wow, that would open some books and websites, and students would broaden their horizons. If you want to debate me that Socartes was not a dog, I might question the definition of dog, and call into question his sexual behavior, which might fit within the definition, and while he might not have had a waggable tail, the human coccyx, I learned it as sacrum, is a vestigial tail, and every human has one. Useless, yet vulnerable to serious injury. That of course would not make him a dog on a scientific level, but, then all you have to do is ask what species he was and determine he was homo sapien, and the debate becomes meaningless. Homo sapiens are not dogs. We are so much wiser now.

    NeoWolfe

    Comment by NeoWolfe — December 7, 2012 @ 3:15 am | Reply

    • Are you belittling my advice? If so, I don’t see how your statements would do such a thing. The argument given here that you mention is not meant to be enlightening in and of itself. That is not the point of what I wrote here.

      Do you realize what you’ve written here is actually off topic? It has nothing to do with the point of what I wrote.

      Comment by JW Gray — December 7, 2012 @ 6:13 am | Reply

  2. I have to admit, that I am belittling your advice. I was actually baiting you to announce that your dog was named Socrates. And I wondered, since most humans name their pets with one or two syllables, like Spike or Fido, you named your dog Socrates. To shorten it, what would you call it, Socky? Then your neighbor would ask you why you call you dog, “Suckee”. Possible sexual implications. Or you could call him Teezy, which could be be interpreted to mean that the dog initiated the whole affair.

    I realize that comment is inflammatory. But, I have played logic with you. You don’t get it. So I injected some roast. I dont care if you realize that by advising people how to debate, you are constructing tinkertoys. If that is your personal delusion, at least you are not a serial killer, I assume. You don’t understand how to debate. You bore me.

    Comment by NeoWolfe — December 8, 2012 @ 5:06 am | Reply

    • If you don’t think I have anything valuable to say, then I advise you to spend your time away from this website. If you want to Proselytize, then I don’t want you here. If you want to just spend time insulting me, then you are a troll and I don’t want you here either. The point of this website is to discuss philosophy and related issues that are on-topic

      Comment by JW Gray — December 8, 2012 @ 7:18 am | Reply


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