Argument Diagramming: Beginner to Advanced

Learn to robustly analyze and fully diagram arguments with a powerful systematic diagramming method.
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  • Lectures 57
  • Length 5.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 12/2015 English

Course Description

A map tells you the lay of land, and how to get from one place to another without getting confused, or even outright lost. Learn how to fully map evidence-based reasoning and arguments from any source -- popular, professional, or academic -- using argument diagrams. In this course, I apply the latest research from specialized modeling languages, engineering diagrams, and philosophy of language to teach you how to "find the lay of the land" within another thinker's writings. As distinguished from courses in Symbolic Logic or Critical Thinking, argument diagramming falls under a third area of evidence-based reasoning called Informal Logic -- the discipline which, in my opinion, is the most interesting!

What are the requirements?

  • You should have good reading comprehension skills in the English language. You should also feel comfortable using a computer, since this course will utilize free and commonly available software tools to draw diagrams.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this course, you will be able to do the following:
  • 1. Identify arguments and their parts within written prose.
  • 2. Recognize words which function as premise and conclusion indicators within and between sentences.
  • 3. Classify and analyze various prose locutions which are not arguments, such as sentences which make unsupported assertions or contain excess verbiage.
  • 4. Apply a mark-up coding method to prose so as to readily restructure a writer's ideas into well crafted arguments.
  • 5. Construct argument sequence diagrams and argument class diagrams to model the underlying connections of a thinker's central ideas.
  • 6. Employ computer assisted diagramming tools to build informative and practical argument diagrams.
  • 7. Discover and integrate Enthymemes (hidden claims) within arguments into a thinker's overall argument structure.
  • 8. Organize separate and related arguments into larger package and frame structures.
  • 9. Analyze professional and academic essays for evidence-based reasoning structures pertinent to their author's overall conclusions.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course assumes you have no previous knowledge of logic or analytical diagramming techniques. It is constructed as a foundational course.
  • It presumes a (U.S. equivalent) High School education level of reading and a desire to use argument diagramming techniques for evidence based reasoning and analysis.
  • As the course develops, intermediate techniques are geared toward the cognitive level of upper-division, college undergraduates.
  • In the last stages of the course, advance techniques are applied to full analysis of academic- and professional- level papers, which is appropriate for a graduate school level of engagement with the issues.

What you get with this course?

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Section 1: Prologue: Welcome to the Course!

In this lecture, you will learn the purpose and structure of the course. Each section will be briefly summarized so as to give you a general overview of the topics covered.

Section 2: Preliminaries: What is an Argument?

An introduction to "Preliminaries: What is an Argument"


This lecture will introduce you to the important components of an argument.

2 pages

Ok, now try applying what you've learned by doing some exercises. You will also find a supplemental .mp3 audio file in the downloads section which walks you through the solutions to the exercises.


Concluding remarks for "Preliminaries: What is an Argument?"

Section 3: Prose Analysis

An Introduction to "Prose Analysis."


Learn how to identify the underlying structure of an argument by attending to special indicator words showing the location of premises and conclusions.


Learn how to identify the underlying structure of an argument by attending to special logic keywords within the statements of an argument.


In this video, you will learn to analyize prose for identifying common patterns of arguments. You will learn to distinguish inductive from deductive arguments, and you will learn the names and structure of some of the most common argument forms. This will help train your eye to identify arguments situtated in natural language selections.


In this lecture you will learn to analyize prose as a way of finding unsupported assertions. These include reports, illustrations, explanations, and conditionals.


In this lecture you will learn to analyze prose to identify excess verbiage. You'll cover discounts, repetitions, assurances, and hedges.

3 pages

Ok, now try applying what you've learned by doing some exercises. You will also find supplemental video files in the downloads section which walk you through the solutions to these exercises.


A video on the Theory of Pragmatics


A synopsis of what was covered in the prose analysis section.

Section 4: Marking Prose

An introduction to the template on Marking Prose.


In this lecture you will gain an overview of the various mark-up indicators which get applied to a selection of prose. This pre-analysis of the prose is independently effective for understanding an argument and also of substantial use in preparing for clearly diagramming the argument.

Below are three videos by PhilHelper on fallacies, both formal and informal. They are well done, and will be helpful for seeing common forms of mis-functions of reason.


In this lecture, we’ll go through some prose examples, step by step, applying the marking method that you can get a feel for how it works for entire arguments. Note that we have also included in the supplimental materials section a 'Marking Prose Summary Sheet' that you can refer to when marking your own arguments.

Five exercises which allow you to test your prose marking skills.

Concluding Remarks on how to Mark Prose

Section 5: Argument Sequence Diagrams

An Introduction to Argument Sequence Diagrams


This lecture introduce the components, value, and basic layout of an argument sequence diagram. A sequence diagram captures the linear flow of explicit reasoning within the text while purposely omitting elements of prose not directly applicable to the embedded logical arguments at hand.


This lecture shows you various examples of how the structure of a sequence diagram reflects the structure of some argument already located in a prose selection. Example videos are provided for you in the 'downloadable materials' area.


[ pull the soundtrack off this, and at least remix it for similar levels throughout. ]


In this lecture, we’ll go through different arguments, step by step, applying the marking method to prose so that you can get a feel for how the marking technique applies to producing sequence diagrams for entire arguments.


Exercises in marking and sequence diagramming arguments.


Concluding Remarks on Sequence Diagrams.

Section 6: Argument Class Diagrams

You have earlier encountered the argument sequence diagram. In this lecture, you will now be introduced to another important tool for analysis, known as the argument 'class diagram'.


In this video, we take a few minutes with our favored too, umlet, to draw a simple class diagram.


Learn how to build a class diagram by looking at how a sequence diagram is structured.

In this video, I present 4 arguments. You'll need to mark up the text, convert the text to a sequence diagram, and from that, create a class diagram. I'll present the questions first, then you'll need to pause the video and work on the questions by yourself for maximum effect. Once completed, unpause the video and see how I work through it.

Some concluding remarks on Class Diagrams.

Section 7: Identifying and Diagramming Enthymemes

A few introductory remarks concerning enthymemes.


In this lecture, we introduce the concept of enthymemes, and we discuss how to appropriately analyze them.


In this lecture you will learn how to use sequence diagrams to analyze enthymemetic arguments.


In this lecture you will learn how to use class diagrams to analyze enthymemetic arguments.


Three exercises in supplying hidden statements into enthymemes.


Concluding remarks on Enthymemes

Section 8: Diagramming Rebuttals

A few introductory remarks concerning Rebuttals and how to Diagram them.


This lecture will introduce the two types of rebuttals that are used in argument diagramming -- namely, propositional rebuttals, and inferential rebuttals.


In this lecture, we're going to offer some tips and examples of how to spot rebuttals in prose. We will also cover different kinds of meta-indicators which bring attention to various kinds of rebuttals.


In this lecture, we'll look at how to map arguments that contain rebuttals onto argument sequence diagrams.


In this lecture, we'll look at how to map arguments that contain rebuttals onto argument class diagrams.


Five progressive exercises in diagramming rebuttals.


A few concluding remarks about Rebuttals.

Section 9: Basic Package Diagrams and Frames

A short introduction to the section on package diagrams and frames.


In this lecture we examine the basic components and uses of package diagrams.


In this lecture you will see how parts of a complex class diagram can be compressed into packages as a way of focusing attention on its most important components.


In this lecture we examine the 'frame', a space-saving device used in sequence diagrams.


In this lecture we take a large sequence diagram and use frames to compress some of the sub-arguments into frames.


In this lecture, we learn how to structure arguments and propositions into packages.


A synopsis on what was covered in the section on basic package diagrams and frames.

Section 10: Intermediate Argument Diagramming

In this lecture, we introduce a teaching assistant, Ben Smith, who along with Prof. Montgomery work through the first way of the Cosmological Argument for God, as recounted by medieval philosopher/theologian Thomas Aquinas.


In this lecture, we continue looking at Thomas Aquinas' arguments with the Second Way.


In this lecture, we continue looking at Thomas Aquinas' arguments with the Third Way.


In this lecture, we continue looking at Thomas Aquinas' arguments with the Fourth Way.


Diagramming the fifth and final way of Aquinas' Cosmological argument.

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Instructor Biography

Brint Montgomery, PhD., Professor of Logic and Philosophy

Hello, and welcome everybody. My name is Brint Montgomery. I am a tenured professor of Logic and Philosophy at a liberal arts university in the Southwestern part of the United States. I teach both classroom and online courses, and have done so for over 20 years. In this lecture, I want to present myself to all of you who take time, energy, and interest to be here with me in this course.

As your instructor, I've made sure you'll get the best practices for argument diagramming and analysis out of this course experience. I am an undergraduate instructor and have taught a range of classes to many students over the years. As a professional philosopher, I have created, designed, and implemented new argument diagramming techniques here for you to use. These techniques are useful for both students and professionals to get at the heart of how people use evidence in their reasoning.

As a philosopher, I'm drawing on knowledge from my professional background in analysis, analytic approaches and language research. I have carefully worked groups of students through the rigors of argument analysis so they can make the best, evidence-based decisions for whatever discipline or career they find themselves within.

In this course, I have created a whole systematic and diagrammatic approach for assessing how ideas are connected to justify the conclusions of arguments. I've used this system myself to gain insight into what I read and hear in everyday discourse -- both in the common course of my day and in heavyweight academic environments. That's a good reason why I'm the best instructor for you in this class -- I've taught these techniques and seen them work. Since I'm both the creator and instructor of these new techniques, you have a truly unique chance at the best, firsthand experience of learning them. So get ready to use the newest, most powerful application of a modeling language for your needs!

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