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Annotating Argument Schemes

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Argumentation Through Languages and Cultures


Argument schemes are abstractions substantiating the inferential connection between premise(s) and conclusion in argumentative communication. Identifying such conventional patterns of reasoning is essential to the interpretation and evaluation of argumentation. Whether studying argumentation from a theory-driven or data-driven perspective, insight into the actual use of argumentation in communicative practice is essential. Large and reliably annotated corpora of argumentative discourse to quantitatively provide such insight are few and far between. This is all the more true for argument scheme corpora, which tend to suffer from a combination of limited size, poor validation, and the use of ad hoc restricted typologies. In the current paper, we describe the annotation of schemes on the basis of two distinct classifications: Walton’s taxonomy of argument schemes, and Wagemans’ Periodic Table of Arguments. We describe the annotation procedure for each, and the quantitative characteristics of the resulting annotated text corpora. In doing so, we extend the annotation of the preexisting US2016 corpus of televised election debates, resulting in, to the best of our knowledge, the two largest consistently annotated corpora of schemes in argumentative dialogue publicly available. Based on evaluation in terms of inter-annotator agreement, we propose further improvements to the guidelines for annotating schemes: the argument scheme key, and the Argument Type Identification Procedure.

Chapter 6 was originally published as Visser, J., Lawrence, J., Reed, C., Wagemans, J. & Walton, D. Argumentation (2021) 35:101–139.

This research was supported in part by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the United Kingdom under Grant EP/N014871/1, and in part by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant 435-2012-0104.

This paper was drafted over 2018-2019 during which time, our friend and co-author, Douglas Walton, contributed to the project with his customary zeal and generosity. Shortly after submission of the second and final review version of the manuscript just before Christmas 2019, we heard the tragic news of Doug’s death. His absence is felt keenly by us all, both personally and academically. In the scholarly domain, his work over a quarter of a century on the topic of argumentation schemes has inspired us to think more deeply and to innovate more creatively, and we hope that this paper can serve as a part of our recognition and gratitude to Doug for his academic vision, his commitment to collaboration, and to his gentle generosity of spirit.

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Correspondence to Jacky Visser .

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Visser, J., Lawrence, J., Reed, C., Wagemans, J., Walton, D. (2022). Annotating Argument Schemes. In: Plantin, C. (eds) Argumentation Through Languages and Cultures. Springer, Cham.

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