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The Argument Type Identification Procedure (ATIP) is a heuristic device that helps the analyst to identify any type of argument expressed in natural language that occurs in an argumentative text or discussion. The procedure starts with a recognition of the two statements that function as the ‘conclusion’ and the ‘premise’ of the argument and results in labelling the argument with a type indicator. The identification of the argument type enables the analyst to formulate the underlying mechanism of the argument, thereby preparing the ground for its evaluation.
Step 1 – Recognize the conclusion and the premise
The theoretical framework of the PTA takes an argument to consist of two statements: a ‘conclusion’, of which the truth or acceptability is contested or doubted, and a premise, which is aimed at establishing or increasing the truth or acceptability of the conclusion. To identify the type of argument the analyst should first recognize these statements with the help of textual clues (, ). In the argument The suspect was driving fast, because he left a long trace of rubber on the road, for example, the discourse marker because indicates that the first clause functions as the conclusion and the second as the premise.
Step 2 – Determine the subjects and predicates
After recognition of the statements that function as the conclusion and the premise of the argument, the analyst analyzes their constituents. The theoretical framework of the PTA takes a statement to consist of two basic elements: a ‘subject’, an entity about which something is said, and a ‘predicate’, that what is said about the entity. In the statement The suspect was driving fast, for example, the suspect is the subject and was driving fast the predicate.
Step 3 – Normalize the statements
To identify the type of argument, the content of these statements should be reconstructed from the original discourse. More often then not, the analyst needs to put the statements functioning as the conclusion and the premise of the argument as they occur in natural language into a form that enables the identification of the argument. This is called the ‘normalization’ of the argument. In the example just mentioned, for instance, he should be replaced with the suspect in order to make clear that the conclusion and the premise share this common element.
Step 4 – Determine the argument form
The ‘argument form’ is an abstract representation of the specific constellation of the subjects and predicates that occur in the conclusion and the premise of the argument. Closely following logical conventions, subjects are indicated with letters a, b, etc., predicates with letters X, Y, etc. (predicate ‘T’ having the fixed meaning ‘true’), and complete propositions with letters p, q, etc. For example, the argument The suspect was driving fast, because [the suspect] left a long trace of rubber on the road instantiates the argument form ‘a is X, because a is Y’.
Within the theoretical framework of the PTA, four basic argument forms are distinguished, which is reflected in the visual representation of the table as divided into four ‘quadrants’. Figure 1 contains an overview of the four argument forms, their names, and the corresponding quadrant of the table:
|a is X, because a is Y||first-order predicate argument||alpha|
|a is X, because b is X||first-order subject argument||beta|
|q is T, because r is T||second-order subject argument||gamma|
|q is T, because q is Z||second-order predicate argument||delta|
Figure 1 Argument forms distinguished in the PTA
An example of a first-order argument has already been provided. Examples of argument types that instantiate the other three argument forms are given below.
While examples 1 and 2 can be analyzed on the level of the propositions, examples 3 and 4 should be analyzed on the level of assertions, which means the analyst has to add the predicate ‘is true’ to the conclusion and/or the premise. For completing this step in the procedure, it is advised to use the decision tree pictured in Figure 2, which contains three heuristic questions as well as the corresponding instructions and observations depending on the answers to these questions.
Figure 2 Decision tree for determining the argument form
Step 5 – Characterize the argument substance
Apart from by its ‘argument form’, each type of argument distinguished within the theoretical framework of the PTA is characterized by its ‘argument substance’. This notion is defined as the specific combination of types of statements the argument instantiates. The labeling of the type of statement is done in accordance with a widely used tripartite typology of statements developed within debate theory that consists of:
– statements of fact (F), such as The suspect left a long trace of rubber on the road
– statements of value (V), such as This painting is beautiful
– statements of policy (P), such as Children should not sleep with artificial lighting
By labeling both the conclusion and the premise of the argument in this way, the argument can be characterized as a specific combination of types of statements. The argument The suspect was driving fast, because the suspect left a long trace of rubber on the road, for instance, is a combination of a statement of fact (F) with another statement of fact (F).
Step 6 – Provide the systematic name of the argument
The systematic name of an argument is a symbolic representation of the results of Step 3 and 4 and consists of
– the prefix “1” or “2”, indicating a first-order or a second-order argument
– the infix “pre” or “sub”, indicating a predicate or subject argument
– the suffix “FF”, “VF”, etc., indicating the types of statements instantiated by the argument
For each of the four examples, the systematic name of the type of argument is mentioned below.
More analyses of examples of arguments within the four quadrants of the table can be found at the website of the Periodic Table of Arguments at www.periodic-table-of-arguments.org.
 Eemeren, F.H. van, Houtlosser, P., & Snoeck Henkemans, A.F. (2007). Argumentative indicators in discourse. Dordrecht: Springer.
 Stab, C., & Gurevych, I. (2017). Parsing argumentation structures in persuasive essays. Computational Linguistics, 43(3), 619-659. DOI: 10.1162/COLI a 00295.