Wigmore’s Chart Method

Posted on 13 July 12

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Goodwin, Jean. “Wigmore’s Chart Method.” Informal Logic 20 (2001): 223-43.

A generation before Beardsley, legal scholar John Henry Wigmore invented a scheme for representing arguments in a tree diagram, aimed to help advocates analyze the proof of facts at trial. In this essay, I describe Wigmore’s “Chart Method” and trace its origins and influence. Wigmore, I argue, contributes to contemporary theory in two ways. His rhetorical approach to diagramming provides a novel perspective on problems about the theory of reasoning, premise adequacy, and dialectical obligations. Further, he advances a novel solution to the problem of assessing argument quality by representing the strength of argument in meeting objections.

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