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Computer Supported Argument Maps as a Policy Memory

This paper investigates to what extent Computer Supported Argument Visualisation can be designed to encourage debate and deliberation by citizens on public issues. Such argument maps use icons and arrows to represent the structure of a series of related viewpoints, reducing the amount of text necessary to convey the ideas, thereby clarifying the issue under consideration. Argument maps have the potential to provide a readily accessible medium by which citizens can follow and join in public debates on policy issues. In this paper we describe our approach, type of maps we have chosen to use and then demonstrate the potential of a collection of maps to form a ‘policy memory’ to support policy development. Our case study is the development of the ‘Smoking in Public Places’ policy in the Scottish Parliament. Our overall aim is to engage citizens in democratic decision-making leading to better policy-making and a more engaged citizenry.