aMap is short for ‘argument map’. The idea’s very simple – to promote the art of arguing by mapping out complex debates in a simple visual format.
aMap has been developed by a team led by Chris Quigley of Delib (part of Team Rubber) to promote the art of arguing. Initial concepts were developed as part of an academic project in partnership with Perry Walker from the new economics foundation, and various wonderful brains from the LSE (see below for more info)
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aMaps are based around the same structure as “informal logic” – this is the logic people use to argue in everyday life. Informal logic has a four-tiered structure:
- Your position (I think . . .) – what you think overall
- Propositions (Because . . .) – reasons that support your position
- Arguments (As . . .) – supporting arguments that back up each of your propositions
- Evidence (Supported by . . .) – supporting evidence to back up your arguments
(N.B. some people also refer to “arguments” as “minor propositions” – in either case, the idea is that this tier is designed to back up your prior “propositions”.)
When put into use, you get something like this:
State their position “I think Man U are the best team in the Premiership”
State their proposition (reason) “Because they’re the most successful on the pitch”
State supporting argument “As they win the most silverware and have the best players”
State supporting evidence “In 2008 Man U won the Champions League and Ronaldo won best European Player of the year.”
The aMap project was initially started in the summer of 2005 as a collaborative academic project between Chris Quigley of Delib (the online opinion research company), Perry Walker of the new economics foundation (the London-based think tank) and the London School of Economics decision-science department.
The initial aMap project was set up to look at how “visualisation techniques” could be used to help create simplified visualisations of complex arguments, with the overall aim to help your average man on the street be able to engage and participate in complex policy issues.
The first aMap to be produced was on the meaty issue of electoral reform, with the question “Would the UK benefit from electoral reform?”. This first aMap proved a success, being used by the respected Electoral Reform Society, and acted as an initial proof of concept.
Since then, both Chris Quigley and Perry Walker have been developing up argument mapping concepts further – looking at different routes of how to best visualise arguments.
This particular aMap project has been led by Chris Quigley and assisted by the Delib team together with a whole host of other partners – including Ollie Lindsey (Play Nicely), Ben and Dan (Thoughtden), James (NOTA), Nigel (Redefine) and Michael J Flexer (who brought the printed aMaps alive with his wonderful use of words and love of obscure facts!)
Additional help throughout the project has been given by Sara Rehman, Alicia Garcia, Cecile Emery, Dan Egan, Matt Golding, Coooks, Beatrice Fazi, Susie Hetherington, Danny Yau and various family / friends who’ve provided help from the likes of the design’s usability, copy subbing through to Yellow Submarine-related legal issues!