Toulmin Model

The Toulmin Model, sometimes called the “Toulmin Method” or “Toulmin Argument” is a specific format for writing an argument, developed by the British philosopher Stephen E. Toulmin  (Purdue OWL “Toulmin Argument”). 

The Toulmin Model begins by making a claim or stating the argument.  This claim is then supported through grounds or evidence.  Finally, the warrant connects the claim to the evidence, bringing the argument together (Purdue OWL “Toulmin Argument”). 

Parts of the Toulmin Model

The Toulmin Model includes six specific parts:

  1. The claim or conclusion
  2. The grounds, reasons, facts 
  3. The warrant 
  4. The backing 
  5. The rebuttal or reservation 
  6. The qualification 

Claim or Conclusion: the position being argued for; the conclusion of the argument

Grounds, Reasons, or Facts: reasons or evidence that support the claim

Warrant: the connection between the grounds/reason and the claim, the underlying assumption that must be true for the claim to be logical, rarely explicit

Backing: support, justification, reasons to believe the warrant

Rebuttal/Reservation: exceptions to the claim; description and rebuttal of counter-examples and counter-arguments

Qualification: specification of limits to claim, warrant and backing

Types of Arguments

The warrant section of the paper will vary slightly depending on which type of argument the paper proposes and examines. 

An argument based on generalization assumes that what is true of a well-chosen sample is likely to hold for a larger group or population, or that certain things consistent with the sample can be inferred of the group/population.

An argument based on analogy is an extrapolation of one situation or event based on the nature and outcome of a similar situation or event.  This type of argument has links to ‘case-based’ and precedent-based reasoning used in legal discourse. What is important here is the extent to which relevant similarities can be established between 2 contexts.  Are there sufficient, typical, accurate, relevant similarities?

An argument via sign/clue is based on the notion that certain types of evidence are symptomatic of some wider principle or outcome.  For example, smoke is often considered a sign of fire.

A causal argument claims that a given occurrence or event is the result of, or is affected by, factor X.  

An argument from authority asks, “Does person X or text X constitute an authoritative source on the issue in question?”  What political, ideological or economic interests does the authority have? Is this the sort of issue in which a significant number of authorities are likely to agree on?

An argument from principle locates a principle that is widely regarded as valid and showing that a situation exists in which this principle applies. To evaluate this, ask yourself: Is the principle widely accepted? Does it accurately apply to the situation in question? Are there commonly agreed on exceptions?  Are there ‘rival’ principles that lead to a different claim? Are the practical consequences of following the principle sufficiently desirable?

Visual Diagram

Fact                           →                      (probably) Conclusion 

Rick has fair skin, red hair,                                 Rick will probably get 

and freckles, and he sunbathed                         seriously sunburnt. 

all day yesterday.

                      ↓                                                ↓

                   Warrant                                   Rebuttal 

                      People with fair skin,                     Rick’s parents have fair skin,

                      red hair and freckles                      red hair, and freckles, and 

                      usually get sunburnt                      they never seem to get 

                      easily.                                                sunburn no matter how much

                                                                                  they sit in the sun. 



                      Those people have little

                      melanin in their skin.

                      Melanin protects 

                      against sunburn. 

Kayla | 2019

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