A Step-by-Step Description of Argument Construction

Picture of connected puzzle pieces

The software always tells you what to do next. Also, when you move your mouse over buttons and text fields, small texts will pop up that explain things.

  1. Click on "Create an argument map." If you are not yet logged in, the software will ask you to do so.

  2. Then AGORA-net will ask you to enter a name for your argument map so that you can find it later. At this point, every map you create will be saved in your private folder and is only visible for you. In case you want to publish your map later in AGORA-net, create a name for your map that describes what you plan to do so that other users might get interested in your map.

  3. Then a text box appears which says "[Enter your claim]." You will see a few explanations and suggestions in yellow around it. Click on this text field and enter your own text.  Use only complete sentences, start sentences with small letters, and do not use periods at the end of sentences.

  4. After entering your text, click either on the "Done"  button or on the Enter key on your keyboard.

  5. Then follow the instructions.

That's it! Here are a few other points that are also mentioned in the picture of an argument map that you can find on the before you start page.

  • In order to add an argument, objection, or other things to a statement in an existing text box, click on the white or yellow triangle at the bottom of this text boxes and select one of the options that appear.

  • If you see that one of those triangles is yellow, then there are comments, links, and other things hidden that become visible when you click on the yellow triangle and then on "Show more." (If you added yourself something, the triange will turn yellow only when you open the map the next time.)

  • Even though you have to select an argument scheme -- and sometimes also a specific language form -- when you complete an argument, you can change both at any time by clicking on the name of the argument scheme underneath "therefore." Simply select anything and play around to see how different argument schemes work. Whatever you select, the created argument will always be a logical argument. But sometimes the language does not sound right. In this case, either change the scheme or the language form, or change the formulations that you entered as your "claim" or your "reason" by clicking again on the respective text boxes.

  • Keep in mind that sometimes you need to combine different reasons in one argument, whereas at other times -- depending on what you know about the situation -- different reasons should be part of different arguments for the same claim. This distinction is explained, with a few pictures, on the "Co-Dependent Reasons and Independent Arguments" page. In case reasons need to be combined because they can justify what you claim only together, you can either select "add another reason" in the process of argument construction, or you add further reasons later by clicking on the "plus" symbol underneath the line that connects this reason with the conclusion.

  • After you complete an argument, ask yourself whether all your premises (including the enabler which is automatically created by the software) are true or acceptable, and provide further arguments for those whose acceptability is either not evident or controversial.

  • Revise the formulations of your statements and the structure of your argument as long as it takes to create the best possible argument.

  • If you add further content to an existing argument map, you might need to move text boxes around. Grab them at the white double-arrow and move them. You can also move the "therefore" with everything attached by grabbing the blue line above it.

  • Every argument you create will be stored in your private folder on the AGORA server. You can publish any map so that it is visible for other users by clicking on "Publish" when the map is open. After clicking, you have to determine where exactly it should be published. Click through the categories that show up until you find a good place. You can also create your own project (with subprojects) and move your argument maps there.

Enjoy how your arguments will become better over time! Come back and do more.