Periodic Table of Arguments

The building blocks of persuasive discourse

Gamma Quadrant

The theoretical framework of the Periodic Table of Arguments takes an argument to consist of two statements, a premise and a conclusion, both of which contain a subject and a predicate. The Gamma Quadrant of the table hosts all so-called ‘second-order subject arguments’. The conclusion and premise of such arguments have a different subject (propositions q and r) and the same predicate (T, meaning ‘true’), giving them the form:

q is T, because r is T

An example is He must have gone to the pub, because the interview is cancelled, which can be normalized as He must have gone to the pub (q) [is true (T)], because the interview is cancelled (r) [is true (T)].

Within each quadrant, arguments are further differentiated on the basis of an identification of the types of statements involved. By labeling the conclusion and the premise as a statement of fact (F), value (V), or policy (P), every argument can be characterized as a specific combination of statements. The example just mentioned has a statement of value as its conclusion and another statement of value as its premise, which means its systematic type indicator is ‘2 sub VV’ (second-order subject argument combining value and value).

The working of arguments is based on the presence of a common term – the ‘fulcrum’ of the argument – and the existence of a relation between the non-common terms – the ‘lever’ of the argument (see Wagemans, 2019). As pictured in Figure 3, second-order subject arguments have predicate T as the fulcrum and the relation between subjects and r as the lever of the argument.

Schermafdruk 2019-05-11 17.46.03

Figure 3. Conceptual representation of a second-order subject argument

In the case of the above example, the lever is the relation between he must have gone to the pub and the interview is cancelled. Since the former proposition is taken to be disjunctive with the negation of the latter, this argument can be called an argument from disjuncts.

Other examples of arguments within this quadrant are:

Schermafdruk 2018-03-27 22.32.06the argument from opposites, which combines a statement of value (V) with another statement of value (V)