issue-based argument

An issue-based argument is a method or document that is narrowly focused on a single issue. No statement that is out of scope for that issue - that is, addresses matters beyond the issue statement - can be included.

The best known example is the system of English jurisprudence on which Canadian criminal law and most Canadian civil law is based. The issue at hand is the verdict on a particular legal case. There are two sides each taking positions that are diametrically opposed - an adversarial process with advocates on each side (see barrister, solicitor, lawyer, master). A judge rules on what admissable evidence and admissable arguments may be heard by him or herself or a jury. If it does not bear on either the core issues of the case and does not counter an argument already raised by the opposing side. The judge may instruct the jury to disregard inadvertent inclusions, even possibly declaring a mistrial if they have clearly affected the outcome. An appeal allows another judge or judges to rule on the validity of the judge's rulings, though not to retry the case with new evidence. Please do not use TV, film or other fiction representations of courtroom proceedings, as they are almost inevitably inaccurate. Only a very few recent fictions have been meticulous about representing the real process and these present only its most dramatic and exceptional elements.

A key principle of any issue-based argument or any due process is that all advocates have equal access to the same evidence and a chance to examine its source and question its authority.


The TIPAESA framework is a very straightforward representation of the documentation required to support a rigorous due process. There is a given schedule (a deadline or end time) to prepare the evidence and the arguments, then the issue is clearly stated by the prosecutor or plaintiff, for response by the defendant. A variety of standard positions may be taken, but may be interpreted or justified by an infinite variety of arguments, evidence and any source that is deemed credible as an authority by the judge or jury.

The simpler IPA subset is appropriate for beginners and processes where persistence of the arguments is important, but the fairness of representation or sticking to a decision schedule is less important. The Green Party of Canada Living Platform, other Living Platforms and openpolitics.ca itself use mostly this subset. A TIPA subset is used for meeting agendas, e.g. the Living Agenda.

Other argumentation frameworks exist but they tend to be more exploratory and allow shifts in the issue being debated - thus they are not appropriate for use in any process where process fairness is the paramount concern.