I’ve continued my exploration of argument mapping with Rationale, the browser-based argument mapping tool, using Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways to prove the existence of God as my subject matter. I reached the point where I have base versions of the argument maps for each way.
In this post, I will be sharing the maps and commenting further on Rationale as a software tool.
The experience of using Rationale has greatly improved (as I commented previously) since scrolling behaviour has been modified: an inadvertent touch on the Magic nMouse or Magic Trackpad does not now cause an instant auto-zoom. A two-fingered drag scrolls the map up and down, shift-drag produces a horizontal. This really has made a huge difference, not only is the frustration of a map suddenly becoming minuscule removed, but the navigation around a map is more convenient as well.
Rationale has a “trim” command. Trim removes unnecessary whitespace from a box. There’s an auto option that will do this automatically when text is entered into a box. I’ve used manual trim more as I have edited claim text, but found the results unsatisfactory. The default width for a box seems to be too narrow, and too often text was formatted with only one or two words per line, which made reading much harder.
Although it’s not something likely in serious use, I did discover that repeating trimming of the same box, gradually produced a narrow and narrower box with even individual words being split across two lines.
For the time being, I have stopped using the trim command, and manually resize boxes to the width that makes the text more readable and adjust the height to remove unnecessary white space. Claims that are formatted on two/three lines are much easier to grasp as I review the map.
One of the types of basis box is “web”. This allows some text plus a URL and label to be added. I discovered that links could be added to other boxes—select the box and type control-k. This is a very handy feature making it much easier to supply sources for claims and evidence.
Rob from Rationale has confirmed that there is no issue doing this. I will be updating my maps gradually with links so they become more complete.
As far as functionality is concerned, I haven’t yet tried to apply evaluations to my Five Ways maps. I gather that, ideally, evaluation should take place after all arguments have been mustered, but I have a notion that considering the strength or weakness of a claim may also help improve the quality of the argument.
I have definitely got more work to do to review claims against the guidelines for claim definition. For more on guidance, see this post.
Location of The Maps
The Rationale maps are accessible to anyone with a free account account. PDF versions are provided for those who don’t:
- God is the prime mover: map | pdf
- God is the first cause: map | pdf
- God is necessary: map | pdf
- God is the maximal example: map | pdf
- God the designer: map | pdf