tools directory

Argument Mapping

Argument Mapping

What situations is this tool used in?

Argument mapping enables an online, visual representation of the pros, cons, trade-offs and vantage points of a particular deliberation – for example an issue being put to referendum. The intention is to enable members of the public to interact, deliberate, find common ground, and better understand the trade offs or nuances surrounding the issue in question.

Who is this tool aimed at?

Argument mapping enables anyone who wants to contribute to add their thoughts to the debate, although current examples tend to be centred around specific locations such as the Living Voters Guide in Washington State. The desired outcome is not one of direct influence on policy, but rather indirect effects through shifts in the nature of public deliberation.

How Is the Tool Used?

An argument mapping website will list a range of ballot measures for consideration. Users click on a single measure and read a brief description, and can view further detail such as analyses of impacts, as well as related fact checks. They can they view the current list of pros and cons contributed by others, choosing those that they agree with, as well as adding their own. Users can view the overall range of opinion on the ballot measure from support to opposition and state their current opinion on the measure based on their selection of pros and cons, as well as viewing and contributing to a discussion board. They can return at any time to alter their position, enabling tracking of overall trends over time.

Who has used the tool?

ConsiderIt is an example of an online platform for argument mapping. It was developed by the Engage project – a research collaboration at the University of Washington. ConsiderIt is used most prominently as the platform for the Living Voters Guide in Washington State, beginning in 2010 to explore various ballot initiatives, and continuing into the 2014 elections.

Living Voters Guide home page 

ConsiderIt home page 

Where to find out more

Overview of ConsiderIt process as an example of argument mapping