Periodic Table of Arguments

The building blocks of persuasive discourse

Argument from analogy

In the following fragment, Kolb (2016, p. 152) explains why the text ‘Walking on the grass is prohibited’ may be used to forbid cycling on the grass:

Schermafdruk 2018-03-17 20.06.18

Application of the first two steps of the Argument Type Identification Procedure (ATIP) yields the following reconstruction of the argument:

Cycling on the grass is prohibited, because walking on the grass is prohibited

After having identified the subject and predicate terms of the two statements, the determination of the argument form starts with a search for the fulcrum, i.e., the common term. In this case, the conclusion and premise share the predicate is prohibited (X). The statements further contain the subjects cycling on the grass (a) and walking on the grass (b). The argument thus fits the form ‘is X, because b is X‘, which is the standard form of a first-order subject argument, and can be annotated as follows:

Cycling on the grass (a) is prohibited (X), because walking on the grass (b) is prohibited (X)

In the subsequent determination of the argument substance, both the conclusion and the premise are labelled as legal judgements, a subtype of a statement of value (V). The argument can thus be identified as a first-order subject argument that combines a statement of value with another statement of value (systematic name 1 sub VV).

Within the framework of the Periodic Table of Arguments, the traditional name of an argument is derived from the formulation of its lever, i.e., the relationship between the non-common terms (see Wagemans, 2019). In this case, as explained in the above fragment, there is a relationship of analogy between cycling on the grass (a) and walking on the grass (b). This means that the lever can be formulated as

cycling on the grass (a) is analogous to walking on the grass (b)

and that the argument is an instantiation of what is traditionally called an ‘argument from analogy’. In the visual representation of the table, this argument type is situated within the Beta Quadrant and represented with the symbol ‘An’. 


Kolb, R. (2016). The law of treaties. An introduction. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.