The CASE schema is a simple but very useful pattern of reasoning. The schema is Contention-Argument-Evidence-Source. (The true acronym is CAES, but CASE is more meaningful and memorable.)
The core schema elements are:
|Contention||A contestable claim. The remaining elements are intended to logically support, or oppose, the Contention.|
|Argument||A claim supporting, or opposing, the Contention.
A supporting argument is also called a Reason; an opposing one is an Objection.
|Evidence||A claim constituting information which backs up the Argument.
If the information counts against the Argument, it is called Counter-Evidence.
Evidence is more detailed, specific or concrete than the Argument.
|Source||An indication of the source of the Evidence.|
Here is an example of reasoning with CASE structure:
The Reserve Bank is unlikely to lower interest rates. According to the most recent Treasury report, economic growth is currently almost 3% per annum. This is comfortably above the RBA’s growth target.
Here are the CASE elements:
|Contention||The Reserve Bank is unlikely to lower interest rates.|
|Argument (Reason)||Economic growth is comfortably above the RBA’s growth target.|
|Evidence||Economic growth is currently almost 3% per annum.|
|Source||The most recent Treasury report|
The basic CASE schema can be elaborated in a number of directions, e.g.:
- Multiple Arguments, or multiple Evidence items
- Multiple levels of Arguments (Arguments, Sub-Arguments, etc.)
- Addition of Bridging claims (aka co-premises, or assumptions)
The CASE schema can be used in three main ways:
- As an aid in helping you understand reasoning presented by somebody else. Attempting to find the CASE elements in what they have written gives structure to your analysis.
- As an aid in articulating your own reasoning. Organising your thinking in CASE format imposes a degree of clarity and rigour, and provides an outline for written presentation.
- As an aid in evaluating the quality of reasoning. Once reasoning is laid out in CASE format, strengths, weaknesses and gaps are often easier to identify.
The CASE schema is similar to the well-known Toulmin model. It can also be seen as another argumentation scheme. The CASE schema can be seen as just putting into a shiny new package concepts that have been familiar for centuries, if not millennia. To the best of my knowledge, the schema was developed in the course of van Gelder & Monk professional development workshops; see the online Argument Mapping Short Course, or the free Argument Mapping email course. We are unaware of any prior or alternative presentations. If anyone knows of prior versions, please let me know.