What is Argument Mapping, and why does it matter? Well, you know those knee-gut reactions to controversial subjects that rise up like acid reflux whenever you’re in otherwise friendly company? Oh jeez. The workplace was flowing with synergy and ergonomics and other happy, productive buzzwords until so-and-so brought up religion, or politics, or whether that dress on the internet a few years ago was white-and-gold or blue-and-black. How do you navigate letting your peers know how aggressively wrong they are about their opinions while objectively proving your own correctness?
Argument mapping is a potential solution. As utilized by ThinkerAnalytix (get it — because we look at how people think?), argument mapping is a visual tool that lays out the internal structure of a particular line of argumentation. Basically, it’s a dichromatic dendrogram that depicts the main claim, or what the argument is trying to prove, at the top of the structure, and splinters off into individual premises, reasons to believe the main claim, supported by further premises in various chains of support. Utilizing efficient argument structures, like co-premises (when a reason to believe a claim is broken up into two, related statements that only form an actual reason when used together) and premise chains (sub-premises), arguments can quickly be assessed for their strength for unbiased reasons.
For instance, whether or not you think Tom Brady is the Greatest quarterback Of All Time (The GOAT), you could look at an argument map that states at the top, “Tom Brady is the Greatest Quarterback of All Time” with a single supporting premise below, stating “Because I said so” and see that that’s not a really strong argument.
These structures, moveover, are particularly useful for illustrating longer, and more convoluted arguments that justly include objections in addition to their lines of support. They can be used for organizing one’s thoughts on a subject, evaluating a particular stance on a subject, criticizing the formatting and integrity of opinion articles, planning thesis-based documents, and they can even be used to summarize ideas presented in short readings for standardized tests. Thanks to argument mapping, we can finally separate the individual from their potentially belligerent or questionable beliefs. Or, at least we can try. At the very least, we can try to practice the charity principle — being able to look at our peers and say, “Hey, I love you, but you’re wrong.”