Monday, March 30, 2009

Analyzing Framing Processes by Means of Logical Argument Mapping


The article begins by discussing 'framing' as a concept. Each individual has a certain way of cognitively limiting the issue he/she is arguing for/against. Hoffman directly quotes Schon and Rein by stating "frames must be constructed by someone, and those who construct not do so from positions of unassailable frame-neutrality." In other words, Schon and Rein state arguers bring their own cognitive bias into the topic he/she argues for/against.

Hoffman's goal is to show that logical argument mapping (LAM) use as an analytical tool centers on "the analysis of framing processes as they are visible in texts, narratives, and communication." The analysts using this tool is required to impose logical consistency to the argument in question to prevent premature simplification, as well as understanding the arguer's implicit beliefs. This allows the analyst to think along the lines of "if p then q."

LAM is useful for detecting core beliefs when ad hoc hypothesis are presented. Hoffman states ad hoc hypothesis "main function is to keep systems of belief consistent without changing core assumptions." Such hypothesis are formulated when a piece of contradictory evidence is introduced which challenges core assumptions.

Hoffman then provides a process for conducting a LAM analysis. First the analyst must locate the central claim for a position. This represents the conclusion of an argument. Next, the analyst must extrapolate true and logical reasons which support the central claim. The analyst then must form a warrant, a statement which "justifies the step from a reason to a claim" so that "the conclusion must necessarily be true."

The warrant is the most important step in LAM for three reasons. First, it reveals the arguer's core implicit beliefs. Second, it is used to scrutinize the overall argument's soundness. Last, the warrant is used to justify or reject controversial arguments.

LAM's weaknesses are presented as well. First, the arguer must produce reasons for their claims, troublesome in verbal interactions. Also, the analyst must be able to interpret the argument, however this is more of a language usage issue.

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