Stephen Toulmin developed themodel for analyzing the kind ofargument you read and heareveryday – in newspapers and ontelevision, at work, in classrooms,and in conversation.The Toulmin Model is not meant tojudge the success or failure of anattempt to prove an argument,instead it helps break an argumentdown to its most basic pieces.It helps to show how tightlyconstructed arguments are, andhow each part of an argumentrelates to the overall validity orreasonableness of that argument.
Six parts that make up an argumentCLAIM · GROUNDS · WARRANTS · BACKING RESERVATIONS · QUALIFIERS
“ My friends who graduated from college most likely will be successful. The LA Times reports that college graduates earn more money in their lifetime. All people who graduate from college are successful, unless they are lazy or have unrealistic expectations as my uncle says. ” Grounds Qualifier Claim (Friends graduated (Most likely) (Friends will be from college) successful) Warrant Reservation (All people who graduate from (Unless they are lazy or have college are successful) unrealistic expectations) Backing Backing(Several friends I have who have (LA Times article that college graduates graduated from college) earn more in their working lifetime)
This is the main point, thethesis, the controlling idea.The claim may be directlystated or the claim may beimplied.You can find the claim byasking the question, “Whatis the advocate trying toprove?”
In the sample argument, theconclusion you havereached is that your collegegraduate friends will leadsuccessful lives. This is theclaim.
These are the reasons givenin support of the claim; theyare also known as evidence,proof, or arguments. Thesupport of a claim can comein the form of facts andstatistics, expert opinion,examples, explanations, andlogical reasoning.You can find the support byasking, “What does theadvocate say to persuade theaudience of the claim?”
In the sample argument, thegrounds are that you haveseveral friends who haveobtained a college degree.
This is the logic underlying theargument. The warrant is someuniversal law of nature, legalprinciple or statute, rule of thumb,mathematical formula, or specifictype of reasoning. Warrants usuallybegin with the words like all, every,any, anytime, whenever, or are if-then, either-or, statements. Ageneral rule of logic is that fromless than an absolute warrant novalid conclusion can be drawn.You can infer warrants by asking,“What’s causing the advocate tosay things he/she does?” or“Where’s the advocate comingfrom?”
In the sample argument, thewarrant is that all peoplewho graduate from collegeare successful.
Backing is the specific datawhich is used to justify andsupport the grounds andwarrant. Critical thinkersrealize that there must bebacking for their statementsor they are merelyassertions.
In the sample argument, thebacking for the grounds arespecific friends whograduated from college.The backing for the warrantcomes from an LA Timesarticle that collegegraduates earn more intheir working lifetime thannon-college graduates do.
They are the “unlesses” to thewarrant. A rule of logic is thatfrom less than an absolutewarrant, no valid conclusioncan be drawn. Thus,reservations do not changethe wording of the warrant.That is, reservations do notchange the “universality” ofthe warrant, but do mean thatan appropriate qualifier for theclaim must be consideredbecause these exceptionsexist.
In the sample argument,your uncle has areservation to the warrant.He states that people whoget a college degree willsucceed, unless they arelazy. The “unless they arelazy” is the reservation tothe warrant.
Because argument is aboutpossibility, not aboutcertainty, you should notuse superlatives likeall, every, absolutely ornever, none, no one.Instead you may need toqualify (tone down) yourclaim with expressions likemany, probably, some orrarely, few, possibly, etc.
In the sample argument,your uncle tells you that“most likely” that they willbecome successful. The“most likely” is the qualifier.
The six parts that make up an argument are: Claim Grounds Warrants Backing Reservations Qualifiers