argumentation framework

An argumentation framework is a minimal or weak ontology designed to organize arguments: any set of argument for and argument against a given position. A very good one supports debate by edit, so that debate itself as an epistemic process is supported by the editing of data in the framework.

[+] history


While there are many dead ends, four models remain in use in the real world:
  1. The Compendium http://www.compendiuminstitute.org/download/download.htm approach and system developed by Conklin et al.
  2. The Zeno Argumentation Framework.
  3. The debatepoint.com methodology.
  4. The TIPAESA system and other open politics argument methods used at openpolitics.ca itself, e.g. issue challenges which are time-limited efforts to focus on a single issue to make a decision.
  5. The wikibooks "Practical Argumentation Framework" based on Action Description Language

Each of the options is good at different things, e.g. TIPAESA keeps issue statements stable and encourages deep commitment to positions, as is required for high-stakes legal and political decisions where strict controls are required to ensure fairness and where closure is unlikely if power issues arise. Specifically, it minimizes the difficulty of keeping open politics in force.

By contrast, the other approaches tend to permit flexible adjustment of rationales and have a less strict idea of process fairness. There is little or no attempt at social engineering any of the context around the decision. This tension between diagnostic, rationale and dialogue was identified early. Rittel was known to refer to Conklin as a "spin doctor" for underemphasizing diagnostics.

argumentation vs. rationale

Argumentation support contrasts with knowledge management approaches, where the focus is on post-facto rationale of decisions, rather than opening them to future challenge. However, to document and justify past decisions is usually a necessary first step to genuine argumentation, as without that there is no explicit standard to guide the presentation or supporters of alternatives. Given a rationale, methods like the issue challenge can refine biased and unfair presentations.

In software engineering, rationale management aboutThisBook refers to tracking "decisions made by humans during engineering....making these... explicit to all stakeholders involved" even if they lack a detailed justification and even if alternatives have not been considered. Allen H. Dutoit, Raymond McCall, Ivan Mistrik and Barbara Paech describe its application to software lifecycle: requirements engineering, software architecting, code design, software maintenance and "organizing reusable bodies of knowledge" (or corpus or instructional capital ) such as software documentation and protocols. A parallel approach to political party platforms and the organizational protocols by which decisions are made, gave rise to Living Platform itself.

argumentation vs. dialogue

Some frameworks, including those primarily concerned with rationale, focus on dialogue mapping. In contrast to diagonostic dialogue, which insists on strict operational distinctions, social dialogue methods rely on social norms and are more similar to facilitation, moderation, mediation and arbitration. There is no guarantee that groupthink rather than defensible conclusions will emerge, but as with rationale-based approaches, dialogue-based approaches do generate enough explicit documentation that errors can begin to become obvious even to fanatical participants.