Can anyone provide authors or references to material on Ethics, Philosophy of Law or Logic which might help me with the following topic?

My interest is in the study of hierarchies in Ethics and Law related to justifications for impositions and prohibitions. I'm looking for systematic analysis of principles for application of force by government, from a data-analytic and NLP approach. The corpus for investigation might include court case disposition and extend to the supporting legislation (text of law plus debate).

I have a few diagrams to share that demonstrate a simplistic version of the sort of visualization and analysis I'm interested in. I'm including a link to the full doc to provide some explanation for the diagrams, for those interested.

A fuller analysis I suspect will find the positions of actions relative to the categories expressed both expanded from points to blobs and judgments regarding their proper location distributed across a wide landscape in the visualization as competing principles play against the facts (i.e. characteristics of the actions).

I would also expect that the multi-dimensional nature of the topic will require something better than a Venn diagram for visualization.

Controversy Slide Gun Control Slide Baking Cakes Slide Abortion Slide Equal Pay Slide

Now, where I am headed is to see if my visualization ends up like this


No, Not really.

But I am curious as to whether ethics, applied in a theoretically optimal (if that can be made to make sense) fashion shares any features with fractal geometry or chaos theory. Whether features of actions in close proximity (via some as yet defined metric but can be understood as sharing significant characteristics) are nevertheless divergent (measured by case outcome and length of detention/size of civil award) at the boundary of guilty/not guilty or liable/not liable in an informed and equitable trial.

Any comments, questions, criticisms are welcome.

  • This may be too broad for a brief answer. You might look at argumentation schemes as a way to diagram arguments. See the papers on Douglas Walton's site for an example of what this is: dougwalton.ca/papers.htm Welcome Jul 12, 2019 at 0:54
  • Thanks. I'm now looking at the link. I'm just looking for a thread to pull to see if I can educate myself. My instinct is that what I'm describing is either incoherent, trivial or whose objectives is better suited using other techniques. But it has been bugging me for several years so I took the time to document it in the hopes it will clear the fog. I've found articles on jurimetrics but the topic is more practical (although the data processing might be applicable). Jul 12, 2019 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


Argumentation schemes are one way to categorize the differences in arguments that may help provide the hierarchy the OP is looking for. Douglas Walton describes the problem of constructing argumentation schemes for informal logic as two-fold: (pages 178-9)

  1. The task of distinguishing between arguments and non-arguments (such as explanations) in natural language discourse.
  2. The task of identifying specific argumentation schemes.

Walton has identified 29 argumentation schemes.

There is also software to aid in the visualization of argumentation mapping.

There may be other alternatives available.

Argdown. https://argdown.org/

Walton, D. Argumentation Schemes and Their Application in Argument Mining. Studies in Critical Thinking, Windsor Studies in Argumentation, vol. 8, 2019, 177-211. Available on Walton's site: https://www.dougwalton.ca/papers.htm

Walton's Argumentation Schemes. Reasoninglab. https://www.reasoninglab.com/patterns-of-argument/argumentation-schemes/waltons-argumentation-schemes/

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