Michael Hoffmann, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Member Of:
  • School of Public Policy
  • Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center
Office Phone:
Office Location:
DM Smith G04

Dr. Michael Hoffmann is an Associate Professor for Philosophy in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech and Co-Director of the Center for Ethics and Technology. His current research focuses on the development of the Reflect! platform (http://reflect.gatech.edu/). Hoffmann is PI on the NSF project “Fostering self-correcting reasoning with reflection systems.” This project is motivated by research that indicates that students hardly ever substantially revise the products of their reasoning, even if they are explicitly instructed to do so. The Reflect! platform will “orchestrate” collaboration within small teams of students, between teams and an instructor, and within a class. Working on a “wicked problem” such as the ethical challenges of facial recognition technologies, students are time and again confronted with new points of view so that they experience the limitations of their own perspective and the need for self-correction.

Dr. Hoffmann directs the VIP Digital Deliberation which is supported by a grant from the Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC; more at http://agora.gatech.edu/node/50). In a previous project, Hoffmann developed the interactive and web-based argument visualization tool "AGORA" (see http://agora.gatech.edu). This project was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

For publications to download see http://works.bepress.com/michael_hoffmann/

  • Dr. phil. habil., Philosophy, Technical University of Dresden, Germany, 2003
  • PhD, Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians Universit
Awards and
  • Gold Star Award in recognition of the highest level of accomplishment in research. Awarded 2011by Georgia Tech
Areas of
  • Abduction
  • Argument Mapping
  • Argumentation Theory
  • Assessment Of Critical And Ethical Thinking Skills
  • Computer-supported Argument Visualization
  • Diagrammatic Reasoning
  • Digital Deliberation
  • Digital Humanities
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy Of Technology
  • Pragmatism
  • Reflection Tools
  • Semiotics
  • Wicked Problems
Research Fields:
  • Argumentation Theory
  • Computer Supported Argument Visualization
  • Digital Humanities
  • Ethics and Philosophy of Science and Technology
  • Wicked Problems
  • Inequality and Social Justice
  • Communication
  • Conflicts
  • Cross-Cultural Understanding
  • Digital and Mixed Media
  • Digital Communication
  • Digital Humanities
  • Education
  • Emerging Technologies - Innovation
  • Framing
  • Higher Education: Teaching and Learning
  • Intercultural Issues
  • Interdisciplinary Learning and Partnering
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Technology
  • Wicked Problems
  • LCC-6748: Social Justice & Design
  • PHIL-2010: Intro Philosophy
  • PHIL-2025: Philosophical Analysis
  • PHIL-2698: Research Assistantship
  • PHIL-3127: Sci, Tech & Human Values
  • PHIL-6000: Responsible Conduct-Res
  • PST-1101: Philosophical Analysis
  • PST-2020: Philosophical Analysis
  • PST-3109: Ethics&Tech Profession
  • PUBP-6001: Intro to Public Policy
  • PUBP-6010: Ethic,Epistem&Public Pol
  • PUBP-6748: Social Justice & Design
Recent Publications

Journal Articles

  • Stimulating Reflection and Self-correcting Reasoning Through Argument Mapping: Three Approaches
       In: Topoi [Peer Reviewed]

    June 2016

    © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media DordrechtA large body of research in cognitive science differentiates human reasoning into two types: fast, intuitive, and emotional “System 1” thinking, and slower, more reflective “System 2” reasoning. According to this research, human reasoning is by default fast and intuitive, but that means that it is prone to error and biases that cloud our judgments and decision making. To improve the quality of reasoning, critical thinking education should develop strategies to slow it down and to become more reflective. The goal of such education should be to enable and motivate students to identify weaknesses, gaps, biases, and limiting perspectives in their own reasoning and to correct them. This contribution discusses how this goal could be achieved with regard to reasoning that involves the construction of arguments; or more precisely: how computer-supported argument visualization (CSAV) tools could be designed that support reflection on the quality of arguments and their improvement. Three types of CSAV approaches are distinguished that focus on reflection and self-correcting reasoning. The first one is to trigger reflection by confronting the user with specific questions that direct attention to critical points. The second approach uses templates that, on the one hand, provide a particular structure to reason about an issue by means of arguments and, on the other, include prompts to enter specific items. And a third approach is realized in specifically designed user guidance (“scripts”) that attempts to trigger reflection and self-correction. These types of approaches are currently realized only in very few CSAV tools. In order to inform the future development of what I call reflection tools, this article discusses the potential and limitations of these types and tools with regard to five explanations of the observation that students hardly ever engage in substantial revisions of what they wrote: a lack of strategies how to do it; cognitive overload; certain epistemic beliefs; myside bias; and over-confidence in the quality of one’s own reasoning. The question is: To what degree can each of the CSAV approaches and tools address these five potential obstacles to reflection and self-correction?