Week 9 – Toulmin Analysis (Warrants)

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:
Warrant (The unspoken, underlying assumption that connects the claim to the data).

Warrants/General Strategies of Argument

Warrants are chains of reasoning that connect the claim and evidence/reason. A warrant is the principle, provision or chain of reasoning that connects the grounds/reason to the claim.  Warrants operate at a higher level of generality than a claim or reason, and they are not normally explicit.

  • Example: “Needle exchange programs should be abolished [claim] because they only cause more people to use drugs [reason/data].” The unstated warrant is: “when you make risky behavior safer you encourage more people to engage in it.”
  • Example: “We should outlaw same-sex marriage [claim] becausethe Bible says it is morally wrong [reason/data].” The unstated warrant is: “we should base laws on what the Bible says.”

If the audience/readers share the warrant (the unstated assumption that connects the data to the claim) they will likely find the argument valid. If they do not, they will likely not. There are THREE types of warrants:

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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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