An argument is defined in philosophy as a set of statements — a claim and one or more reasons — where the reasons jointly provide support for the claim or justify the claim. Reasons increase our confidence in a claim. In the context of the Reflect! approach, the primary purpose of an argument is not to justify the truth of opinions or knowledge, or to convince or defeat an opponent; the purpose of an argument is to learn from attempts to justify a claim how the formulation of this claim can be improved.
Argument mapping software
Since it is important for such learning to get the structure of an argument right, we recommend the use of argument mapping software. A software tool that provides a lot of user support for the construction of arguments on its web site is AGORA-net: http://agora.gatech.edu. AGORA provides user guidance for the construction of logically valid arguments. You can find more information about how to construct AGORA argument maps under “How to use AGORA” at http://agora.gatech.edu/learn/agora-video.
Another tool is MindMup. It allows the creation of argument maps on a google drive: argument.mindmup.com. An introduction is available at https://maps.simoncullen.org/basics and a video at https://maps.simoncullen.org/software.
A third tool is Rationale. On its website you will find many videos and other materials on argument mapping and critical thinking.
There are well-known lists of argumentation schemes that provide structures for particular purposes. The ReasoningLab published various collections of argumentation schemes. A comprehensive discussion of argumentation schemes and “critical questions” that should be asked for arguments that follow such a scheme is available in:
Walton, D. N., Reed, C., & Macagno, F. (2008). Argumentation schemes. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.