The bigger picture

Informal Argument Semantics (IAS) is a tool for the evaluation of the language used in the expression of arguments. It provides the theoretical support for the fourth part of the Comprehensive Assessment Procedure for Natural Argumentation (CAPNA). The overall structure of CAPNA can be seen in the diagram below:

The CAPNA is structured in accordance with a definition of argumentation as the expression of reasoning within a process. The CAPNA begins with an initial assessment which determines whether an argument is present in the given text, and then evaluations are carried out on the acceptability of that argument, judged by criteria od Process, Reasoning, and Expression.

The evaluation proceeds through the posing of a series of procedural questions. Whie these questions have not yet been fully developed for the Process level, work on the development of questions for the Reasoning level is at an advanced stage. This level of evaluation is based on the theoretical structures behind the development of the Periodic Table of Arguments by Jean Wagemans.

What is the IAS?

The Informal Argument Semantics allows for the assesment of the language of arguments through the application of five semantic principles of acceptable language use (the 5 Cs):

Clarity - language must not be vague. It must be clear enough for the purposes of the argument.

Consistency - meanings must not alter within the argument. This prevents equivocation.

Coherence - words may not be combined if they are not semantically compatible.

Completeness - arguments must be given in full. This involves making explicit implicatures and unstated premises.

Conceptualisation - the use of concepts within the argument must not be based on an erroneous understanding of the relationship between language and reality.

These five principles are operationalised through four stages of analysis: