1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

Toulmin model

By

Toulmin model

Stephen Toulmin (1922-2009)

Definition:

A six-part model of argument (with similarities to the syllogism) introduced by British philosopher Stephen Toulmin in his book The Uses of Argument (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1958).

The Toulmin model (or "system") can be used as a tool for developing, analyzing, and categorizing arguments.


Observations:

  • "What is it that makes arguments work? What makes arguments effective? The British logician Stephen Toulmin made important contributions to argument theory that are useful for this line of inquiry. Toulmin found six components of arguments:

    • Claim: A statement that something is so.
    • Data: The backing for the claim.
    • Warrant: The link between the claim and the grounds.
    • Backing: Support for the warrant.
    • Modality: The degree of certainty employed in offering the argument.
    • Rebuttal: Exceptions to the initial claim.
    [T]he Toulmin model provides us with useful tools for analyzing the components of arguments."
    (J. Meany and K. Shuster, Art, Argument, and Advocacy. IDEA, 2002)


  • "[Toulmin's] general model of 'data' leading to a 'claim,' mediated by a 'warrant' with any necessary 'backing,' has been very influential as a new standard of logical thinking, particularly among scholars of rhetoric and speech communication."
    (C. W. Tindale, Rhetorical Argumentation. Sage, 2004)


  • Using the Toulmin System
    Use the seven-part Toulmin system to begin to develop an argument . . .. Here is the Toulmin system:

    1. Make your claim.
    2. Restate or qualify your claim.
    3. Present good reasons to support your claim.
    4. Explain the underlying assumptions that connect your claim and your reasons. If an underlying assumption is controversial, provide backing for it.
    5. Provide additional grounds to support your claim.
    6. Acknowledge and respond to possible counterarguments.
    7. Draw a conclusion, stated as strongly as possible.
    (Lex Runciman, Carolyn Lengel, and Kate Silverstein, Exercises to Accompany The Everyday Writer, 4th ed. Macmillan, 2009)


  • "Toulmin's model actually boils down to a rhetorical expansion of the syllogism . . .. Although the reactions of others are anticipated, the model is primarily directed at representing the argumentation for the standpoint of the speaker or writer who advances the argumentation. The other party remains in fact passive: The acceptability of the claim is not made dependent on a systematic weighing up of arguments for and against the claim."
    (F. H. van Eemeren and R. Grootendorst, A Systematic Theory of Argumentation. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004)


  • "When I wrote [The Uses of Argument], my aim was strictly philosophical: to criticize the assumption, made by most Anglo-American academic philosophers, that any significant argument can be put in formal terms . . ..

    "In no way had I set out to expound a theory of rhetoric or argumentation: my concern was with twentieth-century epistemology, not informal logic. Still less had I in mind an analytical model like that which, among scholars of Communication, came to be called 'the Toulmin model.'"
    (Stephen Toulmin, The Uses of Argument, rev. ed. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003)
Also Known As: Toulmin system
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Taboo - Zimbabwean English
  6. Toulmin model - definition and examples of the Toulmin model of deductive reasoning

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.