Argument Mapping (Draft)


The aim of this course is to significantly improve your reasoning skills, even if you are already an excellent critical thinker. This we do by practicing making argument maps.

Argument mapping is a way of graphically representing the logical structure of someone’s reasoning. An argument map helps you understand the evidence for and against a claim and can help decide if you should accept the claim. Argument maps work because the visual representation an argument’s logical structure makes it easier to display and investigate. For example, argument maps make it very easy to isolate individual steps in the argument for evaluation, which is one of the most crucial and difficult critical thinking skills.

An additional benefit of argument mapping is that it makes discussing arguments much easier and aids the teaching of critical thinking because your class facilitator and fellow participants can more readily see exactly what your reasoning is. This allows for the rapid and reliable feedback needed for deliberate practice.

This course was written for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an organisation that funds and co-ordinates research relevant to the US intelligence community. The material was written by an international team of experts lead by Neil Thomason. (Some of the material has been cut or modified slightly to better fit with the other material on this website.)

Research team: Neil R. Thomason, Tom Adajian, Ashley E Barnett, Sandy Boucher, Eva van der Brugge, John Campbell, William Knorpp, Rick Lempert, Larry Lengbeyer, David R. Mandel, Yanna Rider, Tim van Gelder, and John Wilkins