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Argdown

A simple syntax for complex argumentation

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Simple

Writing pros & cons in Argdown is as simple as writing a Twitter message. You don't have to learn anything new, except a few simple rules that will feel very natural.

Expressive

With these simple rules you will be able to define more complex relations between arguments or dive into the details of their logical premise-conclusion structures.

Powerful

Your document is transformed into an argument map while you are typing. You can export your analysis as HTML, SVG, PDF, PNG or JSON. If that is not enough, you can easily extend Argdown with your own plugin.

argdown
Argument Map n0 Censorship Censorship is not wrong in principle. n1 Absolute Freedom of Speech Freedom of speech is an absolute right. n2 Argument from Freedom of Speech Censorship is wrong in principle. In a free and civilized society, everyone must be free to express herself. n1->n2 n2->n0 n3 No-Harm trumps Freedom-of-Speech Freedom of speech ceases to be a right when it causes harm to others. Therefore freedom of speech is never an absolute right but an aspiration. n3->n1 n4 Argument from racial hatred Legislation against incitement to racial hatred is permissible. Thus, censorship is not wrong in principle. n4->n0 n5 Importance of inclusive public debate Legislation against incitement to racial hatred drives racists and others underground rather than drawing them into open and rational debate. n5->n4 n6 Excessive sex and violence Excessive sex and violence in film and television contribute to a tendency towards similar behaviour in spectators. In these cases, censorship is obligatory. n6->n0 n7 Argument from expertise Scientific studies have established a causal link between violence in film and a similar behaviour in spectators. n7->n6 n8 Causal link questionable The link between sex and violence on screen and in real life is far from conclusive. The individual's personality make her watch violent videos, not vice versa. n8->n6
A first example (with arguments from 'The Debaters Handbook')

If you are new to argument mapping, read our tutorial about how this debate was reconstructed.

Learn Argdown in 3 Minutes

Argdown's formula consists of three ingredients:

1 Nested lists of pros & cons

Statement titles come in square brackets, argument titles in angle brackets.

argdown
[Argdown is the best]: Argdown is the best
tool for analyzing complex argumentation
and creating argument maps.
  - <Editors easier>: Argument map editors
    are way easier to use. #pro-editor
    + <WYSIWYG>: In argument map editors what
      you see during editing is what you get
      at the end: an argument map. #pro-editor
  + <Pure Data>: With Argdown no user interface
    gets in your way. You can focus on writing
    without getting distracted.

How to get the argument map

Click on the Map button in the upper right corner to see the resulting argument map.

This will work for all Argdown examples in this documentation.

2 Premise-conclusion-structures

Let's logically reconstruct an additional argument in detail:

argdown
<Word Analogy>

(1) [Word @#*%!]: It is much easier to write
    and format a text with Markdown than it is with Word.
(2) Markdown and Word are comparable in their ease of use
    to Argdown and argument map editors respectively.
----
(3) It is much easier to analyze complex argumentation and
    create argument maps with Argdown than it is with
    argument map editors.
    -> <Editors easier>


[Argdown is the best]
  - <Editors easier> #pro-editor
    + <WYSIWYG> #pro-editor
  + <Pure Data>

Click on the Map button in the upper right corner to see the resulting argument map.

3 Markdown-like text-formatting

argdown
# Headings are used to group statement and arguments in the map

You can use __many__  (though not all) *features* of [Markdown](http://commonmark.org/) to format Argdown text.
And you can use #hashtags to color statements and arguments in the map.

For this example, no map will be generated, as the Argdown source code contains no statements or arguments connected by support or attack relations.

Getting started

Now that you have learned the basics of Argdown you can:

  • Browser Sandbox Try out Argdown in your browser. Includes a live preview of the generated map.
  • VS Code Extension Install the Argdown VS Code extension for full Argdown language support in one of the best code editors around. Includes a live preview, syntax highlighting, content assist, code linting and export options.
  • Commandline Tool If you prefer to work with the commandline install the Argdown commandline tool. You can define custom processes in your config file and use them in a task runner to export several argument maps for the same document at once.

TIP

If you are getting unexpected results in your map, take a look at the syntax rules of Argdown and do not forget to separate top-level elements by empty lines.