Periodic Table of Arguments

The building blocks of persuasive discourse

Argument Type Identification Procedure (ATIP)

New guidelines for identifying and annotating arguments

The Argument Type Identification Procedure (ATIP) presented in this document is a step-by-step method for analyzing natural arguments. The subsequent steps help the analyst to detect, reformulate, identify, and name such arguments in terms of the categorization framework of the Periodic Table of Arguments (PTA), thereby providing an overview of their main characteristics and preparing the ground for their evaluation.

Version 3 of the ATIP is now available in PDF format, you can download it here.

The hermeneutics of argument

Recognizing and identifying arguments in the wild can be quite a challenge. First, there is an embarrassment of choice. Ever since Aristotle wrote up a list of arguments in his Topica, philosophers and rhetoricians have conceived many different taxonomies of arguments, fallacies, and other means of persuasion. Unfortunately, they do not always provide a clear rationale for distinguishing between the types. This makes it difficult to decide which taxonomy is best suited for accomplishing specific analytical tasks.

Second, there is a methodological issue. Traditional taxonomies are not accompanied by detailed guidelines for argument type identification but leave it up to the analyst to choose a type from the list that best matches the observed characteristics of the argument under scrutiny. This is easier said than done, especially since every argument type can come in different linguistic realizations. What should the analyst do if there is only a partial match? How many discrepancies between the ideal and the real are admissible? And what are the conditions for naming a new type of argument, one that is not on the list yet?

The lack of instructions complicates the heuristic process of identifying the type of argument as well as the justificatory process of motivating the choice of the most fitting candidate. The Argument Type Identification Procedure (ATIP) responds to these hermeneutic challenges by providing a step-by-step method for identifying the type of argument in terms of the Periodic Table of Arguments (PTA), a formal linguistic framework for argument categorization that systematically summarizes the traditional taxonomies. The PTA is premised on the idea that an argument type is a unique combination of three basic features: the argument form, the argument substance, and the argument lever. Rather than leaving it up to the analyst to match the argument under scrutiny with a list of predefined argument types, the ATIP facilitates the analyst to give a theoretically informed and justifiable identification by accommodating the linguistic variations of the phrasing of natural arguments.