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In argumentation theory, an argumentation scheme or argument scheme is a template that represents a common type of argument used in ordinary conversation. Many different argumentation schemes have been identified. Each one has a name (for example, argument from effect to cause) and presents a type of connection between premises and a conclusion in an argument, and this connection is expressed as a rule of inference. Argumentation schemes can include inferences based on different types of reasoning—deductive, inductive, abductive, probabilistic, etc.
The study of argumentation schemes (under various names) dates back to the time of Aristotle, and today argumentation schemes are used for argument identification, argument analysis, argument evaluation, and argument invention.
Some basic features of argumentation schemes can be seen by examining the scheme called argument from effect to cause, which has the form: "If A occurs, then B will (or might) occur, and in this case B occurred, so in this case A presumably occurred.": 170 This scheme may apply, for example, when someone argues: "Presumably there was a fire, since there was smoke and if there is a fire then there will be smoke." This example looks like the formal fallacy of affirming the consequent ("If A is true then B is also true, and B is true, so A must be true"), but in this example the material conditional logical connective ("A implies B") in the formal fallacy does not account for exactly why the semantic relation between premises and conclusion in the example, namely causality, may be reasonable ("fire causes smoke"), while not all formally valid conditional premises are reasonable (such as in the valid modus ponens argument "If there is a cat then there is smoke, and there is a cat, so there must be smoke"). As in this example, argumentation schemes typically recognize a variety of semantic (or substantive) relations that inference rules in classical logic ignore.: 19 More than one argumentation scheme may apply to the same argument; in this example, the more complex abductive argumentation scheme may also apply.