I’ve been reviewing the ins and outs of a program called Rationale, from Austhink in Australia, that’s used to chart argumentation, in preparation for a new project. The program is sophisticated but easy to use, and can really help delineate an argument clearly. There’s a lot of supportive material and a wide range of resources. It’s geared to students, but the lone learner can work with it easily.
I’ve owned the program for a couple of years, but the new project I’m working on is the first time I can really use the full power of the program.
Here’s a sample of a reasoning map.
You can drag and drop from any text. You can create from scratch. Whatever. Trying to follow an argument in a text? Pick out the claims, reasons, and objections as you go, then sort them out in an easy drag interface. You can make it as complex and sophisticated as you want, getting into advanced reasoning and analysis and inferences and such. Simple example:
I’m bringing this up because I’m fascinated by this way of working with arguments, and because I like the program a lot. The website is Austhink Rationale. They offer a free trial, if you’re interested.
[Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the company or in promoting their products. I just like the damn program and find it useful.]