There are many
reasons to learn argument mapping, and to engage in argument mapping:
- Mastering the art of argument mapping will help build your general
reasoning and critical thinking skills. Extensive
at the University of Melbourne suggest that instruction based on argument
mapping is far more effective than traditional techniques for improving
- Argument mapping will help you produce clear, strong, well-organised
arguments of your own. Suppose for example you have to write a
"defend your opinion"-type essay. If you map out the relevant reasoning,
you will become much more clear as to what it is, what you might need to add,
strengths and weaknesses, and so forth.
- Argument maps will help you communicate your reasoning to other
people (at least, to other people who are familiar with argument mapping).
Ordinarily we present reasoning in prose, whether written (e.g., an essay) or
spoken (e.g., a verbal debate). However prose is very unreliable for
this job. Very often, the reader or hearer ends up forming quite a
different interpretation of the reasoning than the one you intended.
Argument maps are far more successful, because they present reasoning in a
completely clear and unambiguous form.
- Argument mapping helps in the evaluation of reasoning, that is,
deciding whether it is good or bad. Evaluation is crucial to critical
thinking, since you should only accept things when they are backed up by solid
reasoning. Argument mapping makes the structure of reasoning completely
explicit, and so it helps you see strengths and weaknesses that would
otherwise be obscured or hidden.
mapping helps people resolve disagreements rationally. Often in
debates or arguments, everyone has a different "take" on what the arguments
actually are. Using argument mapping, people can share a common
conception of the structure of the reasoning, and so disagree about the
substance of the issues rather than being sidetracked by misunderstandings.
- Similarly, argument mapping can help you make better decisions.
Anytime you need to make a decision on an issue on which there is a complex
tangle of arguments, you will be better off if you map out the arguments to
gain clarity and perspective.
- Finally, argument mapping can be interesting and fun! Of
course this is a matter of personal taste, but as a general rule, the better
you are at something, the more interesting and enjoyable you find it.
We all engage in reasoning and argument every day, but most people do it
quite badly. Somebody who has mastered argument mapping is like an
expert skier rather than a novice. For the expert, skiing is a far more
challenging and satisfying activity.