ArgLab • Colloquium

Fabio Paglieri

Argumentation as a board game: how to use design patterns to increase argumentative quality

he notion of design patterns has already been evoked a few times in relation to arguments, either to identify typical constellations of argumentative moves often occurring in a given context (van Eemeren, 2017), or to characterize formal relations between arguments that go beyond mere attack or support in abstract argumentation frameworks (Villata, Boella & van der Torre, 2011). In this talk I will discuss an alternative approach for applying design patterns, a concept first developed in architecture (Alexander, 1979) and later extended to other contexts, e.g. software programming (Gamma et al., 1994), to argumentation. This is consistent with Aakhus’ project of looking at communication as design (e.g., see Aakhus, 2007). However, my take on design patterns is mainly inspired by work done in game design, which entails a different perspective on argumentative design as well. I will begin by distinguishing three predominant orientations in our approach to argument (conclusion-driven, quality-driven, and image-driven), then I will emphasize some key analogies and differences between arguments and games. This will lead me to discuss how the key concern in game design, i.e. player engagement, may apply to argument design, in terms of speaker engagement, and how designing for engagement requires appreciating the role of resources, mechanics, dynamics, and patterns in argumentation. I will conclude offering some examples of relevant design patterns for argumentation and analyzing their impact on argumentative quality. The end result will not be a full-blown theory of argumentative patterns, but rather an invitation to further explore this approach to arguments, especially from an empirical perspective: while we have meticulous taxonomies of recurring inferential patterns connecting premises to conclusions (argument schemes), we still lack principled repertoires of interactive patterns connecting argumentative resources, moves, and consequences. This is precisely what a design approach to argumentation aims to deliver.

Aakhus, M. (2007). Communication as design. Communication Monographs, 74(1), 112-117.
Alexander, C. (1979). The timeless way of building. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gamma, E., Helm, R., Johnson, R, & Vlissides, J. (1994). Design patterns: elements of reusable object-oriented software. Boston: Addison-Weasley.
van Eemeren, F. H. (Ed.) (2017). Prototypical argumentative patterns. Exploring the relationship between argumentative discourse and institutional context. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Villata, S., Boella, G., & van der Torre, L. (2011). Argumentation patterns. In Proceedings of the 8th International Workshop on Argumentation in Multi-Agent Systems (ArgMAS 2011) (pp. 133-150).
About Fabio Paglieri
Fabio Paglieri is a Researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council in Italy.

Paglieri is the current President of the Italian Association of Cognitive Sciences (AISC, 2017-2019) and the Chair of the Steering Committe of the European Conference on Argumentation (ECA, 2013-2021). Since 2012, he is Editor-in-Chief of Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy (Springer), and Director of Sistemi Intelligenti (Il Mulino), the leading Italian journal in cognitive science and Artificial Intelligence. He is also in the Editorial Board of the journal Argument & Computation (Taylor & Francis) and of the book series Studies in Logic and Argumentation (College Publications), and he is a member of the Workgroup on Psychology of the publishing house Il Mulino.