Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Argument Mining

Elena Cabrio, Serena Villata (Editors)

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Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Argument Mining
Elena Cabrio | Serena Villata

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DebateSum: A large-scale argument mining and summarization dataset
Allen Roush | Arvind Balaji

Prior work in Argument Mining frequently alludes to its potential applications in automatic debating systems. Despite this focus, almost no datasets or models exist which apply natural language processing techniques to problems found within competitive formal debate. To remedy this, we present the DebateSum dataset. DebateSum consists of 187,386 unique pieces of evidence with corresponding argument and extractive summaries. DebateSum was made using data compiled by competitors within the National Speech and Debate Association over a 7year period. We train several transformer summarization models to benchmark summarization performance on DebateSum. We also introduce a set of fasttext word-vectors trained on DebateSum called debate2vec. Finally, we present a search engine for this dataset which is utilized extensively by members of the National Speech and Debate Association today. The DebateSum search engine is available to the public here:

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Annotating Topics, Stance, Argumentativeness and Claims in Dutch Social Media Comments: A Pilot Study
Nina Bauwelinck | Els Lefever

One of the major challenges currently facing the field of argumentation mining is the lack of consensus on how to analyse argumentative user-generated texts such as online comments. The theoretical motivations underlying the annotation guidelines used to generate labelled corpora rarely include motivation for the use of a particular theoretical basis. This pilot study reports on the annotation of a corpus of 100 Dutch user comments made in response to politically-themed news articles on Facebook. The annotation covers topic and aspect labelling, stance labelling, argumentativeness detection and claim identification. Our IAA study reports substantial agreement scores for argumentativeness detection (0.76 Fleiss’ kappa) and moderate agreement for claim labelling (0.45 Fleiss’ kappa). We provide a clear justification of the theories and definitions underlying the design of our guidelines. Our analysis of the annotations signal the importance of adjusting our guidelines to include allowances for missing context information and defining the concept of argumentativeness in connection with stance. Our annotated corpus and associated guidelines are made publicly available.

Semi-Supervised Cleansing of Web Argument Corpora
Jonas Dorsch | Henning Wachsmuth

Debate portals and similar web platforms constitute one of the main text sources in computational argumentation research and its applications. While the corpora built upon these sources are rich of argumentatively relevant content and structure, they also include text that is irrelevant, or even detrimental, to their purpose. In this paper, we present a precision-oriented approach to detecting such irrelevant text in a semi-supervised way. Given a few seed examples, the approach automatically learns basic lexical patterns of relevance and irrelevance and then incrementally bootstraps new patterns from sentences matching the patterns. In the existing corpus with 400k argumentative texts, our approach detects almost 87k irrelevant sentences, at a precision of 0.97 according to manual evaluation. With low effort, the approach can be adapted to other web argument corpora, providing a generic way to improve corpus quality.

Exploring Morality in Argumentation
Jonathan Kobbe | Ines Rehbein | Ioana Hulpuș | Heiner Stuckenschmidt

Sentiment and stance are two important concepts for the analysis of arguments. We propose to add another perspective to the analysis, namely moral sentiment. We argue that moral values are crucial for ideological debates and can thus add useful information for argument mining. In the paper, we present different models for automatically predicting moral sentiment in debates and evaluate them on a manually annotated testset. We then apply our models to investigate how moral values in arguments relate to argument quality, stance and audience reactions.

Aspect-Based Argument Mining
Dietrich Trautmann

Computational Argumentation in general and Argument Mining in particular are important research fields. In previous works, many of the challenges to automatically extract and to some degree reason over natural language arguments were addressed. The tools to extract argument units are increasingly available and further open problems can be addressed. In this work, we are presenting the task of Aspect-Based Argument Mining (ABAM), with the essential subtasks of Aspect Term Extraction (ATE) and Nested Segmentation (NS). At the first instance, we create and release an annotated corpus with aspect information on the token-level. We consider aspects as the main point(s) argument units are addressing. This information is important for further downstream tasks such as argument ranking, argument summarization and generation, as well as the search for counter-arguments on the aspect-level. We present several experiments using state-of-the-art supervised architectures and demonstrate their performance for both of the subtasks. The annotated benchmark is available at

Annotation and Detection of Arguments in Tweets
Robin Schaefer | Manfred Stede

Notwithstanding the increasing role Twitter plays in modern political and social discourse, resources built for conducting argument mining on tweets remain limited. In this paper, we present a new corpus of German tweets annotated for argument components. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first corpus containing not only annotated full tweets but also argumentative spans within tweets. We further report first promising results using supervised classification (F1: 0.82) and sequence labeling (F1: 0.72) approaches.

News Aggregation with Diverse Viewpoint Identification Using Neural Embeddings and Semantic Understanding Models
Mark Carlebach | Ria Cheruvu | Brandon Walker | Cesar Ilharco Magalhaes | Sylvain Jaume

Today’s news volume makes it impractical for readers to get a diverse and comprehensive view of published articles written from opposing viewpoints. We introduce a transformer-based news aggregation system, composed of topic modeling, semantic clustering, claim extraction, and textual entailment that identifies viewpoints presented in articles within a semantic cluster and classifies them into positive, neutral and negative entailments. Our novel embedded topic model using BERT-based embeddings outperforms baseline topic modeling algorithms by an 11% relative improvement. We compare recent semantic similarity models in the context of news aggregation, evaluate transformer-based models for claim extraction on news data, and demonstrate the use of textual entailment models for diverse viewpoint identification.

ECHR: Legal Corpus for Argument Mining
Prakash Poudyal | Jaromir Savelka | Aagje Ieven | Marie Francine Moens | Teresa Goncalves | Paulo Quaresma

In this paper, we publicly release an annotated corpus of 42 decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The corpus is annotated in terms of three types of clauses useful in argument mining: premise, conclusion, and non-argument parts of the text. Furthermore, relationships among the premises and conclusions are mapped. We present baselines for three tasks that lead from unstructured texts to structured arguments. The tasks are argument clause recognition, clause relation prediction, and premise/conclusion recognition. Despite a straightforward application of the bidirectional encoders from Transformers (BERT), we obtained very promising results F1 0.765 on argument recognition, 0.511 on relation prediction, and 0.859/0.628 on premise/conclusion recognition). The results suggest the usefulness of pre-trained language models based on deep neural network architectures in argument mining. Because of the simplicity of the baselines, there is ample space for improvement in future work based on the released corpus.

Argument from Old Man’s View: Assessing Social Bias in Argumentation
Maximilian Spliethöver | Henning Wachsmuth

Social bias in language - towards genders, ethnicities, ages, and other social groups - poses a problem with ethical impact for many NLP applications. Recent research has shown that machine learning models trained on respective data may not only adopt, but even amplify the bias. So far, however, little attention has been paid to bias in computational argumentation. In this paper, we study the existence of social biases in large English debate portals. In particular, we train word embedding models on portal-specific corpora and systematically evaluate their bias using WEAT, an existing metric to measure bias in word embeddings. In a word co-occurrence analysis, we then investigate causes of bias. The results suggest that all tested debate corpora contain unbalanced and biased data, mostly in favor of male people with European-American names. Our empirical insights contribute towards an understanding of bias in argumentative data sources.

Use of Claim Graphing and Argumentation Schemes in Biomedical Literature: A Manual Approach to Analysis
Eli Moser | Robert E. Mercer

Argumentation in an experimental life science paper consists of a main claim being supported with reasoned argumentative steps based on the data garnered from the experiments that were carried out. In this paper we report on an investigation of the large scale argumentation structure found when examining five biochemistry journal publications. One outcome of this investigation of biochemistry articles suggests that argumentation schemes originally designed for genetic research articles may transfer to experimental biomedical literature in general. Our use of these argumentation schemes shows that claims depend not only on experimental data but also on other claims. The tendency for claims to use other claims as their supporting evidence in addition to the experimental data led to two novel models that have provided a better understanding of the large scale argumentation structure of a complete biochemistry paper. First, the claim graph displays the claims within a paper, their interactions, and their evidence. Second, another aspect of this argumentation network is further illustrated by the Model of Informational Hierarchy (MIH) which visualizes at a meta-level the flow of reasoning provided by the authors of the paper and also connects the main claim to the paper’s title. Together, these models, which have been produced by a manual examination of the biochemistry articles, would be likely candidates for a computational method that analyzes the large scale argumentation structure.

Annotating argumentation in Swedish social media
Anna Lindahl

This paper presents a small study of annotating argumentation in Swedish social media. Annotators were asked to annotate spans of argumentation in 9 threads from two discussion forums. At the post level, Cohen’s k and Krippendorff’s alpha 0.48 was achieved. When manually inspecting the annotations the annotators seemed to agree when conditions in the guidelines were explicitly met, but implicit argumentation and opinions, resulting in annotators having to interpret what’s missing in the text, caused disagreements.

Style Analysis of Argumentative Texts by Mining Rhetorical Devices
Khalid Al Khatib | Viorel Morari | Benno Stein

Using the appropriate style is key for writing a high-quality text. Reliable computational style analysis is hence essential for the automation of nearly all kinds of text synthesis tasks. Research on style analysis focuses on recognition problems such as authorship identification; the respective technology (e.g., n-gram distribution divergence quantification) showed to be effective for discrimination, but inappropriate for text synthesis since the “essence of a style” remains implicit. This paper contributes right here: it studies the automatic analysis of style at the knowledge-level based on rhetorical devices. To this end, we developed and evaluated a grammar-based approach for identifying 26 syntax-based devices. Then, we employed that approach to distinguish various patterns of style in selected sets of argumentative articles and presidential debates. The patterns reveal several insights into the style used there, while being adequate for integration in text synthesis systems.

Creating a Domain-diverse Corpus for Theory-based Argument Quality Assessment
Lily Ng | Anne Lauscher | Joel Tetreault | Courtney Napoles

Computational models of argument quality (AQ) have focused primarily on assessing the overall quality or just one specific characteristic of an argument, such as its convincingness or its clarity. However, previous work has claimed that assessment based on theoretical dimensions of argumentation could benefit writers, but developing such models has been limited by the lack of annotated data. In this work, we describe GAQCorpus, the first large, domain-diverse annotated corpus of theory-based AQ. We discuss how we designed the annotation task to reliably collect a large number of judgments with crowdsourcing, formulating theory-based guidelines that helped make subjective judgments of AQ more objective. We demonstrate how to identify arguments and adapt the annotation task for three diverse domains. Our work will inform research on theory-based argumentation annotation and enable the creation of more diverse corpora to support computational AQ assessment.