What is the best criteria for evaluating and comparing arguments?
As someone who has evaluated his share of arguments, I would suggest the following criteria:
1) Representativeness of data
2) Representativeness of conclusions
3) Credibility of source & data
5) Understanding of context (historical, culture, relevant or iconic precedent in the area, etc…)
6) Lack of overgeneralization, straw person, or excessive reductionism
7) Precision, specificity, and nuance
8) Ability to address objections (i.e. how it relates to and integrate with the oppositions arguments), counter-examples, or alternative perspectives
9) What are its assumptions?
10) Is it reasonable? Is it coherent?
11) Takes a comparative view (i.e. weighing arguments or proof on both sides). This model is followed by the SWOT model.
12) A clear sense of prioritization (i.e. of whats important and what isn’t and helping the reader understand it).
13) Honesty. Openness and honesty about ones premises and assumptions. The purpose of the academy is finding truth. Arguments which don’t attempt to find truth run counter to the purpose of education, the academy, and progress of society.
14) Multiple forms of proof
15) Multi-disciplinary understanding of argument
I would suggest these four additional resources on developing a criteria for creating, evaluating, and comparing the reasonableness and credibility of arguments:
1) Stephen Toulmin (his 7 part criteria is pretty epic) (link)
2) Page on publish.uwo.ca (a PDF on assessing arguments) (link)
3) Criteria for Analyzing Arguments (includes the STAR method) (link)
4) Page on northwestern.edu (short criteria from Northwestern U) (link)
This criteria is for good argument–and ideal. Arguments can certainly have less proof–particular in the case of informal argument–but this argument shoots at what the ideal of argument is in a best case scenario.