Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Topic: Argumentative Writing.

10-second review: Attempts to explain Toumin’s “warrant” that supports the claim and the data.

Title: “Taming the Warrant in Toulmin’s Model of Argument.” JE Warren. English Journal (July 2010), 41-46.

Summary: The Toulmin model of argument is as follows: The claim is supported by the data. “The movement from claim to data is authorized by a general, unstated proposition Toulmin calls the warrant.” [Did I used to call this an enthymeme? RayS.] “Support for the warrant is termed backing; words that limit the force of a statement are called qualifiers (‘nearly all teachers’….). “Exceptions to the claim are called conditions of rebuttal.”

Toulmin justifies his method of argument by saying that’s the way the real world argues.

Toulmin begins with a syllogism: “All humans are mortal. Socrates is a human. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.” In the Toulmin model, the third statement in the syllogism, the conclusion, is the claim. The second premise is the data. The first statement is the warrant. So, in effect Toulmin stands the syllogism on its head: Socrates is mortal (claim) because Socrates is human (data) because all humans are mortal (warrant for the data).

Comment: The author criticizes textbooks on the Toulmin method for not explaining the warrant clearly and are often incorrect in giving examples of a warrant. I know what a warrant is, I can define it—it supports the data which supports the claim. But after reading the article, I’m no clearer in being able to identify a warrant. RayS.

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