Toulmin's Method For Argumention

How to win ANY argument!

Stephen Toulmin 1922-2009

"Stephen Toulmin, an influential philosopher who conducted wide-ranging inquiries into ethics, science and moral reasoning and developed a new approach to analyzing arguments known as the Toulmin model of argumentation, died on Dec. 4 in Los Angeles. He was 87." -NY Times Article "Stephen Toulmin, a Philosopher and Educator, Dies at 87" By: William Grimes

The 6 Main Components

  1. Claim: This states your position on the subject.
  2. Grounds/Data: Data that support your claim.
  3. Warrant: This connects your claim and your grounds through common sense.
  4. Backing: Your backing should support your warrant.
  5. Qualifier: This strengthens your claim. Ex. Should/Could
  6. Rebuttal: If one were to argue your claim, this is how you would refute their argument.

12 Main Fallacies

Straw Man: twisting your opponent's argument to make it support yours

comparing your problem with another that has few similarities :False Analogy

False Dilemma: offering two solutions where yours is obviously better

a personal attack against your opinion :Ad Hominem

Appeal to Questionable Authority: not specifying your sources ex. Some sources say...

one thing will happen if this happens without reasoning :Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Appeal to Tradition: it worked in the past, why change it?

jumping to conclusions without reasoning :Non Sequiter

Red Herring: getting off base to confuse audience/opponent

if this happens, it will lead to this bad situation :Slippery Slope

Ad Poplum: using pride or nationalism to invoke response

always going back to the same claim with no evidence :Circular Reasoning


An Argument Using Toulmin's Method

Ephrata High School should (qualifier) change their foreign language curriculum (claim) because there are better languages to be offered that are more desirable to students (warrant). In an informal poll, the offered languages are not the most requested (grounds). All schools have an obligation to give the best learning of what is in demand (backing), therefore Ephrata High School needs to offer different languages. Critics may say Ephrata High School has a strong foreign language system as it is therefore there is no need to change it however the school's top priority should be student interest (rebuttal). If they truly care for their pupils, Ephrata High School will change their foreign language curriculum to a more student-based selection.

For the full essay: see here