Argumentation schemes: From genetics to international relations to environmental science policy to AI ethics

Argument and Computation 12 (3):397-416 (2021)
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Abstract

Argumentation schemes have played a key role in our research projects on computational models of natural argument over the last decade. The catalogue of schemes in Walton, Reed and Macagno’s 2008 book, Argumentation Schemes, served as our starting point for analysis of the naturally occurring arguments in written text, i.e., text in different genres having different types of author, audience, and subject domain, for different argument goals, and for different possible future applications. We would often first attempt to analyze the arguments in our corpora in terms of those schemes, then adapt schemes as needed for the goals of the project, and in some cases implement them for use in computational models. Among computational researchers, the main interest in argumentation schemes has been for use in argument mining by applying machine learning methods to existing argument corpora. In contrast, a primary goal of our research has been to learn more about written arguments themselves in various contemporary fields. Our approach has been to manually analyze semantics, discourse structure, argumentation, and rhetoric in texts. Another goal has been to create sharable digital corpora containing the results of our studies. Our approach has been to define argument schemes for use by human corpus annotators or for use in logic programs for argument mining. The third goal is to design useful computer applications based upon our studies, such as argument diagramming systems that provide argument schemes as building blocks. This paper describes each of the various projects: the methods, the argument schemes that were identified, and how they were used. Then a synthesis of the results is given with a discussion of open issues.

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