Week 8 – Toulmin Analysis (Claims and Data)

This unit explores the method of argument analysis developed by the British logician Stephen Toulmin. The method analyzes arguments by exploring their underlying assumptions. This week we will address:

Claim (The main point)

Data (The evidence)

Stephen Toulmin

Stephen Toulmin was a British philosopher, author, and educator. Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Toulmin devoted his works to the analysis of moral reasoning. Throughout his writings, he sought to develop practical arguments which can be used effectively in evaluating the ethics behind moral issues. His works were later found useful in the field of rhetoric for analyzing rhetorical arguments. The Toulmin Model of Argumentation, a diagram containing six interrelated components used for analyzing arguments, was considered his most influential work, particularly in the field of rhetoric and communication, and in computer science.

The Toulmin Model

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

Data/Grounds: reasons or supporting evidence that bolster the claim.

Warrant: the principle, provision or chain of reasoning that connects the grounds/reason to the claim.

Backing: support, justification, reasons to back up 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.  The degree of conditionality asserted.

 

For this week, we will mostly be addressing claims and data.

  • When looking for the claim, ask yourself the question: “What is the main idea of central claim of this argument?”
  • When looking for the data/grounds, ask yourself the question, “What are the reasons given to support the claim?”
  • When looking for the warrant, ask yourself the question, “Why does the arguer believe this data proves this claim?”

Claims

There are FOUR types of claims:

  1. Claims of Fact
  2. Claims of Value
  3. Claims of Policy
  4. Claims of Definition

This week, we will be exploring the use of the Toulmin Model of Argumentation both in the analysis and creation of arguments. You will apply what you learn to your final essay (due the final week of class).

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Critical Thinking by Andrew Gurevich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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