Periodic Table of Arguments

The building blocks of persuasive discourse


The Periodic Table of Arguments is a classification of arguments that combines dialectical accounts of argument schemes and fallacies with rhetorical accounts of logos, ethos, and pathos into a systematic theoretical framework. This is done by classifying arguments in terms of three independent characteristics, namely as a

  1. first-order or second-order argument
  2. predicate argument or subject argument
  3. specific combination of types of statements

As displayed in the Argument Type Identification Procedure (ATIP), the classification is based on clear standards for distinguishing between the types of argument and provides formal(izable) descriptions of their properties. For these reasons, the Periodic Table of Arguments is especially suitable as a point of departure for formal linguistic and computational research into the various ways in which people try to convince others of their point of view. Apart from being an appropriate means for the analysis and evaluation of persuasive discourse, the table can also be used as a heuristic device for generating premises in support of any given conclusion.

The Periodic Table of Arguments has been developed by Jean Wagemans, a philosopher specialized in rhetoric, argumentation, and debate. Wagemans is a member of the Argumentation and Rhetoric Group Amsterdam (ARGA), which is a research unit within the Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication (ACLC) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).