Rationale and Thomas Aquinas III

I’ve continued my exploration of argument mapping with Rationale, the browser-based argument mapping tool, using Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways to prove the existence of God as my subject matter. I reached the point where I have base versions of the argument maps for each way.

In this post, I will be sharing the maps and commenting further on Rationale as a software tool.

Bacon Sarnie

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If Not Rationale, What?

I have written several posts about Rationale argument mapping software. In the last post, I complained about:

Bloody Instant Zooming
This is where the zooming behaviour of Rationale maps became a real PITA. Zooming is activated by a two-finger drag on either my magic Mouse or my trackpad. Normally, in Safari two-fingered dragging scrolls the web page up or down, and zooming is activated using a pinch gesture. It is very, very, very easy to inadvertently zoom in or out when you are trying to navigate a map. The problem is exacerbated because the map very quickly zooms to be either too small or too large.

In a fit of pique, I wondered whether I could apply the same process using different software. I immediately thought of iThoughts from Toketaware. This is a really excellent program available for both OSX and IOS. iThoughts is a mind mapping program. Argument mapping can be considered as a sub-topic within mind mapping, so the choice was pretty obvious.

(NOTE: that in the last day or so, Rationale’s zooming behaviour has been modified. A two-fingered drag now produces vertical scrolling; shift-drag scrolls the map horizontally. This gives a much better user experience.)

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Rationale and Thomas Aquinas Part the Second

In my last post on Rationale, I illustrated using the software to map the first of Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways—logical proofs of God—that God is the prime, or unmoved, mover. In this post, I’ll makes some further remarks on working with Rationale to refine and polish a largely complete map resulting in an updated version of the Prime Mover argument and an argument map of the second way: God the the first cause.

Mainly so I can have a picture at the start of the post, I’m displaying a colour version of this wonderful, famous cartoon of Sidney Harris, Then A Miracle Occurs. It doesn’t quite get the Thomistic argument right as the miracle should be at step 1.


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Rationale and Thomas Aquinas

This is the third post in my series on argument mapping with Rationale. The previous posts are Argument Mapping with Rationale and More on Argument Mapping with Rationale.

To further practice argument mapping, I decided to map Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways. These purport to be logical proofs for the existence of God. Thomas Aquinas was a theologian in the 13th century CE. Apparently, Aquinas’ writings still influence the teaching of the Catholic Church today.

Aquinas argued that the existence of God could be proved in five ways:

  1. the unmoved mover
  2. the first cause
  3. the argument from contingency
  4. the argument from degree
  5. the argument from design

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More on Argument Mapping with Rationale

In a previous post, I gave an overview of Rationale, the browser-based argument mapping software. In the diagram below, you can see summaries of the structure. The top half uses the Advanced Reasoning toolbox and, the bottom half is displayed in the standard reasoning toolbox. The significant difference is that the advanced structures allow for multiple premises within a reason; obviously, the premises must be related to each other.

Rat05 adv simp

Argument Map Structure—at the top, Advanced Reasoning layout. At the bottom, standard Reasoning. Click for larger image.

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Argument Mapping with Rationale

One of my current personal projects is to work on improving my critical thinking skills. During the course of my web peregrinations, I stumbled across Rationale. It is a web-based tool for diagramming the structure of an argument: building an argument map. It is aimed largely at education and is intended to help teach critical thinking.

What is Argument Mapping?

Wikipedia defines argument mapping:

In informal logic and philosophy, an argument map is a visual representation of the structure of an argument. It includes the components of an argument such as a main contention, premises, co-premises, objections, rebuttals, and lemmas. Typically an argument map is a “box and arrow” diagram with boxes corresponding to propositions and arrows corresponding to relationships such as evidential support.


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