Toulmin and Rogerian ArgumentsPresentation Transcript
Structuring Arguments: Toulmin and Rogerian Schemes ENG 102
Toulmin Schemes: Uses
To check your own logic
To evaluate another’s logic
To test ideas and reasons
Toulmin logic is simple involving four elements:
One way to use the Toulmin model is to check the logic of our own thesis statements
A clearer example follows…
Thesis development example
Brainstorm : Crack Babies
Narrowed : Programs for Crack Babies
Specific : Experts estimate that half of crack babies will grow up in home environments lacking rich cognitive and emotional stimulation.
Take a stand : More attention needs to be paid to the environment they grow up in
Finalize : Because half of all crack babies are likely to grow up in homes lacking good cognitive and emotional stimulation, the federal government should finance programs to supplement parental care.
Same topic: Toulmin test
Reason: (Because) half of all crack babies are likely to grow up in homes lacking good cognitive and emotional stimulation
Warrant: (since) their parents are drug users
Claim: (so) the government should step in and finance social programs
Does this thesis work? It will depend on the strength of the proof… Toulmin can help us tell what proof we need.
Toulmin terms defined
the claim : the conclusion
Reason/Grounds : the Why/So what? for the claim
the warrant : an unstated assumption
The Proof/Backing: The facts that prove your case
Usually the claim or conclusion is stated first, followed by the evidence.
Always watch for language that needs further refining:
All Democrats hate America and all Republicans are blind patriots
While it’s true that some Democrats like Mr. Smith are critical of American policies, many Republicans, like Mr. Jones aren’t critical enough.
Failure to refine language or offer adequate proof are grounds for rebuttals.
What proof is needed?
Claim: Parents should buy their kids Mattel toys.
Reasons: Because Mattel makes high quality toys; Because Mattel has competitive prices; Because millions of Mattel toys are bought by other parents every year.
Warrant: Parents should buy their kids toys of some kind.
Necessary Questions: Proof
The major aspects to consider:
Is the reason valid on its face,
Is it only valid for this particular instance,
Can it adequately support the claim without support other than what is offered in the proof?
In whose opinion is this brand of toys "quality"? Was it an unbiased report ( Consumer Reports ) or the opinion of the company itself?
What does "competitive" pricing mean? If I make a lot of money, this will be on a different level than someone making much less.
More questions for the proof:
Do the purchases by other parents make this purchase a sound one? Could they be blindly buying an inferior product merely because of its popularity?
Is the warrant truly a shared assumption or is this subject to individual opinion? Should parents be buying any toys at all, or is this an assumption that not all of us share?
Much of this may be subjective, and thus the argument that ensues is not based on the validity of the claim as much as the validity of the warrant or the reasons.
Often the claim is supported largely by preconceived assumptions that are really unproven assertions that the writer wants you to take for granted.
Let’s try it… Political Example
CLAIM:Republican Jones is a shoe-in to win the election.
REASON:Democrat Smith was convicted of fraud last week. The other candidates are all Independents.
WARRANTS:Only a Republican or Democrat can win an election. A criminal conviction will sway votes.
Is this valid?
Even though logic does support this claim, the proof does not:
first, history proves that a few candidates from other than the two major parties have won both state and national congressional posts.
Likewise, Marion Barry, mayor of Washington DC, was reelected after being convicted and jailed for cocaine use. Similarly, Buddy Cianci, Mayor of Providence, RI was reelected after being charged with fraud and assault
CLAIM:You shouldn't break morality laws.
REASONS:Some actions hurt other people. All such actions are against God's will. You will be punished by God when you die.
WARRANTS:Hurting others is bad. God exists.
Obviously, this argument hinges largely one's belief system.
If the reader were to be an atheist or didn't care about other people, the argument is not convincing.
Can one have “proof” of the existence of God outside a faith-based belief system?
CLAIM:"PBS is free because it sucks" ( Comedy Central radio ad)
REASONS (offered in ad):PBS is information-based. Comedy Central offers sexily clad women. Comedy Central offers "adult" language and content.
WARRANT (not stated in ad but implied):Culture is boring, or prurient content is exciting. Culture is not worth paying for, or prurient interest is worth paying for.
Obviously, many would agree with this argument, since cable costs money and PBS is free.
Proof shows that PBS is paid for by individual and corporate sponsorship (not advertisers nor cable subscription), so the warrant may not be supportable to a certain segment of the population.
Toulmin Logic is supposed to draw the user into a stricter logic process...and it can be used to evaluate claims by others.
Be aware that it is difficult to get absolute "proof" of an argument, even when logic and past experience tell us the likely outcome.
However, used correctly, this approach to argumentation can be effective as a way to check a thesis created by traditional means, or one’s own logic throughout an argument.
Using your editorial, create a Toulmin scheme based off your reading of its main ideas
See the handout for more information
The option… Rogerian Arguments
Carl Rogers, “Communication: Its Blocking and Facillitation”
A writer who wishes to communicate with someone (esp. on a tough issue) needs to reduce the threat
Moves away from either/or and toward a compromise
Helps one show sympathetic understanding of opposition by recognizing valid spots and the overall goodwill of their detractor’s ideas
Toulmin vs. Rogerian
Although concessions may be made, arguments mostly based on refutation
Opponent is “wrong” and will be overcome by evidence
Nonconfrontational, collegial, friendly tone
Respects other’s views and allows for more than one truth
Seeks to achieve common ground, not to convince 100%
1. State the problem
2. Give the opponent’s position
3. Grant whatever validity you find in that position (ex: circumstances where the position might be acceptable
4. Attempt to show how the opposing position will be improved if the writer’s own position is accepted.
In cases where two sides can’t meet, writer will begin to stress the assets of his/her own position