- School of Public Policy
- Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center
Dr. Michael Hoffmann is an Associate Professor for Philosophy in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. His research focuses on tools and educational approaches to foster students’ ability to cope with “wicked problems.” For Rittel and Webber, who coined the term, problems are “wicked” if there is not even a definitive formulation of what the problem is. For example: “Should humanity try to engineer the Earth’s climate?” Or: “Should we develop autonomous lethal robots for the military?” Since we always approach problems from a certain point of view, those problems will be perceived and specified differently as a function of varying knowledge, conflicting interests, world-views, and values.
Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Hoffmann developed the interactive and web-based argument visualization tool "AGORA-net" (see http://agora.gatech.edu). Currently, the project "Fostering self-correcting reasoning with reflection systems" -- a collaboration with Dr. Richard Catrambone (School of Psychology) and Dr. Jeremy Lingle (CEISMC) -- is supported by a grant from the NSF "Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies" program. The goal is to transform AGORA-net into "Reflect!," a new deliberation platform for student teams who work in problem-based learning environments on wicked problems (for details see http://agora.gatech.edu/node/52). Parts of this project will be realized in the VIP Digital Deliberation, a collaboration with Chris LeDantec which is supported by a grant from the Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC; more at http://agora.gatech.edu/node/50. For publications see http://works.bepress.com/michael_hoffmann/.
- Dr. phil. habil., Philosophy, Technical University of Dresden, Germany, 2003
- PhD, Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians Universit
- Gold Star Award in recognition of the highest level of accomplishment in research. Awarded 2011by Georgia Tech
- Argumentation Theory
- Computer Supported Argument Visualization
- Digital Humanities
- Ethics and Philosophy of Science and Technology
- Wicked Problems
- Inequality and Social Justice
- Cross-Cultural Understanding
- Digital and Mixed Media
- Digital Communication
- Digital Humanities
- Emerging Technologies - Innovation
- Higher Education: Teaching and Learning
- Intercultural Issues
- Interdisciplinary Learning and Partnering
- Problem-Based Learning
- 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-4803: Special Topics
- PHIL-6000: Responsible Conduct-Res
- PST-1101: Philosophical Analysis
- PST-2020: Philosophical Analysis
- PST-3109: Ethics&Tech Profession
- PUBP-4651: Public Policy Internship
- PUBP-4803: Special Topics
- PUBP-6001: Intro to Public Policy
- PUBP-6010: Ethic,Epistem&Public Pol
- PUBP-6748: Social Justice & Design
- 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?
- Facilitating problem-based learning by means of collaborative argument visualization software
In: Teaching Philosophy [Peer Reviewed]
December 2015© 2015 Teaching Philosophy. All rights reserved.There is evidence that problem-based learning (PBL) is an effective approach to teach team and problem-solving skills, but also to acquire content knowledge. However, there is hardly any literature about using PBL in philosophy classes. One problem is that PBL is resource intensive because a facilitator is needed for each group of students to support learning efforts and monitor group dynamics. In order to establish more PBL classes, the question is whether PBL can be provided without the need for facilitators. We present a combination of five strategies-among them the collaborative argument visualization software AGORA-net-to replace facilitators. Additionally, we present evidence that these strategies are sufficient to provide a PBL experience that achieves intended learning goals in an ethics class and is satisfying for students without facilitators.
- Reflective Argumentation: A Cognitive Function of Arguing
In: Argumentation [Peer Reviewed]
November 2015© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media DordrechtWhy do we formulate arguments? Usually, things such as persuading opponents, finding consensus, and justifying knowledge are listed as functions of arguments. But arguments can also be used to stimulate reflection on one’s own reasoning. Since this cognitive function of arguments should be important to improve the quality of people’s arguments and reasoning, for learning processes, for coping with “wicked problems,” and for the resolution of conflicts, it deserves to be studied in its own right. This contribution develops first steps towards a theory of reflective argumentation. It provides a definition of reflective argumentation, justifies its importance, delineates it from other cognitive functions of argumentation in a new classification of argument functions, and it discusses how reflection on one’s own reasoning can be stimulated by arguments.
- Changing Philosophy Through Technology: Complexity and Computer-Supported Collaborative Argument Mapping
In: Philosophy and Technology [Peer Reviewed]
June 2015© 2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.Technology is not only an object of philosophical reflection but also something that can change this reflection. This paper discusses the potential of computer-supported argument visualization tools for coping with the complexity of philosophical arguments. I will show, in particular, how the interactive and web-based argument mapping software “AGORA-net” can change the practice of philosophical reflection, communication, and collaboration. AGORA-net allows the graphical representation of complex argumentations in logical form and the synchronous and asynchronous collaboration on those “argument maps” on the internet. Web-based argument mapping can overcome limits of space, time, and access, and it can empower users from all over the world to clarify their reasoning and to participate in deliberation and debate. Collaborative and web-based argument mapping tools such as AGORA-net can change the practice of arguing in two dimensions. First, arguing on web-based argument maps in both collaborative and adversarial form can lead to a fundamental shift in the way arguments are produced and debated. It can provide an alternative to the traditional four-step process of writing, publishing, debating, and responding in new writing with its clear distinction between individual and social activities by a process in which these four steps happen virtually simultaneously, and individual and social activities become more closely intertwined. Second, by replacing the linear form of arguments through graphical representations of networks of inferential relations which can grow over time in an infinite space, these tools do not only allow a clear visualization of structures and relations, but also forms of collaboration in which, for example, participants work on different “construction zones” of larger argument maps, or debates are performed at specific points of disagreement on those maps. I introduce the term synergetic logosymphysis (defined as a process in which an argumentative structure grows in a collaborative effort) to describe a practice that combines these two dimensions of collaborative- and web-based argument mapping.
- Navicons for collaboration - Navigating and augmenting discussions through visual annotations
September 2015© 2015 IEEE.As discussions move online, we need means that compensate for what we take for granted in face-to-face meetings: voice modulation, mimics, or gestures. There are three functions of these 'metadiscoursive' expressions: 1) to navigate conversations and to direct the attention of our interlocutors, deciding what to discuss, reviewing what has been said, or how things are framed 2) to signal attitudes such as agreement or disagreement, or the level of certainty or commitment and 3) to annotate (visual) content with comments. These functions are crucial for the quality of discussions and can benefit from information visualization. To do this, we propose a classification of navigational moves and attitudes and their visual representation in form of 'Navicons' and 'Atticons'. These icons help to improve the quality of online or face to face discussions, to plan conversations in advance, or to analyze past discussions. An example and outlook conclude the paper.