Making Decisions with Rationale

Most major decisions involve weighing the arguments for and against each choice.

Such decisions aren't - or shouldn't be! - just a matter of going with your intuitions. Your gut is for digestion, not decision. You need to carefully think through the issues, organise the arguments, and weigh them up.

This can be a difficult job.

That's because, in important decisions, there are usually lots of arguments. And counterarguments. And rebuttals, and red herrings.

It can be very complex. With all this stuff swirling around in your mind, sometimes it seems like one option is best, then another - and sometimes it all just seems overwhelming. And the potential to fall victim to cognitive biases - or make straight-out blunders - is huge.

If only you could map things out, so you could see clearly what you've got.

You can.

You can use Rationale™ to map the arguments behind major decisions.

Rationale helps you gather, organise, and evaluate the complex tangle of considerations bearing on the issue.

The essential idea is very intuitive. Start with the issue of most concern. Turn it into a proposal. Drag-and-drop the arguments into place. Green for supporting, red for opposing.

Here's a simple example:

Move head office

OK, so maybe we shouldn't move to San Diego.

Obviously, that was highly oversimplified, but you get the core idea. Lets look at a more realistic case.

Are you - or your parents - thinking of dipping in to the equity in the family house?

Reverse Mortgage

Click on the image to pull up a large (readable) version in a new window.

It doesn't matter what the topic is. If there's a thicket of argument, Rationale™ can help you disentangle it.

One more example. This one illustrates a more complex mode, in which the software can handle arguments which have multiple constituent ideas (or "premises" as the logicians call them).

Merger small

Click on the image to pull up a large (readable) version in a new window.

This example also illustrates how we can show on the map our evaluations - judgements of quality - of the reasoning. This helps us see how the overall case stacks up.

Yeah but I can do that with Visio

Sure. You can produce just about any diagram in Visio - with a lot of messing around.

Rationale™ doesn't just produce diagrams. It supports the fast, easy modification of these diagrams as you think through an issue.

When you've got a really complex decision, your first "take" on the considerations is always incomplete and a bit confused. You need to work it over. And for this, you need a tool which doesn't just give you pretty output - it supports you in making changes with a minimum of "futzing" around.

The tool should support your thinking, not hold you back. Rationale™ was designed with this role in mind.

Sounds good... can I try it out?

You can download a fully-functional trial version. Install it on your PC and take it for a spin.

So far we've only talked about a fraction of the features and uses of Rationale™. Explore the Grouping (hierarchical structuring, or "Pyramid Principle") maps. Do Dialogue Mapping. Import pictures. Produce argumentative prose.

Rationale™ is a general purpose "thinking support" tool. But, more than any other tool available today, it supports decision-making based on weighing up complex sets of arguments - what we refer to as "deliberative decision."

What would it cost me?

The list price is $219.

There's a steep educational discount, and there are discounts for volume purchases.


"Rationale™ is magic when it comes to thinking through a problem.... To my great delight I found that argument mapping could be fun as well as eye opening....If I had had Rationale in college my thinking skills would've been finely tuned and problem solving would have become a much more rewarding pursuit. Now my ideas are more accurate and better articulated." Chet Dailey