Periodic Table of Arguments

The building blocks of persuasive discourse


Ever since Aristotle wrote up a list of arguments in his debate manual called the Topica, philosophers and rhetoricians have provided many different taxonomies of arguments, fallacies and other means of persuasion. The Periodic Table of Arguments (PTA) brings all these traditional accounts together in a systematic way. It offers a comprehensive overview of the various types of argument by describing them in terms of three basic characteristics – form, substance, and lever.

The theoretical framework of the PTA uses clear standards for distinguishing between the types of argument and provides formal(izable) descriptions of their properties. For these reasons, the PTA 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 PTA can also be used as a heuristic device for generating premises in support of any given conclusion.

The Periodic Table of Arguments is developed by Jean Wagemans, a philosopher who specializes in rhetoric, argumentation, and debate. Wagemans is a senior researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication (ACLC) and serves as the Chair of the Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory, and Rhetoric of the University of Amsterdam. He co-authored the Handbook of Argumentation Theory (2014) and Argumentation and debate (in Dutch, 2014). His other publications include scientific articles, book reviews, and popularizing columns. Wagemans gives guest lectures, invited talks, and keynote speeches at international conferences and regularly appears in the media to talk about his research and to provide expert commentary on current affairs.

Foto Jean Wagemans 2020

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