A useful system of argument was developed by philosopher Stephen
Toulmin. In simplified form, it can help you organize
an argumentative essay in this way:
Make your claim (a statement that is debatable or controversial).
That is, state your claim or thesis regarding the question.
Qualify your claim if necessary. That is, restate
or qualify your thesis or claim in narrower, more precise terms.
Present and discuss the series of good reasons to support
Explain the warrant (underlying assumptions) that connects
your claim and your reasons. If the warrant is controversial,
provide backing for it. That is, give your explanation
of the underlying assumptions that support your reasons.
Provide grounds to support your claim.
- facts, statistics, testimony from others, the use of
other logical, ethical, or emotional appeals.
||Acknowledge and respond to possible counterarguments.
||Draw your concluding statement of your claim
(it is fine, actually recommended, if you
work on this project with someone else)
Read §5i.2, "The Toulmin system," p. 92 -93
of The New St. Martin's Handbook, then do the following
Use the seven-part Toulmin system above
to begin to develop an argument for either question
1 or question 2. . . . Make sure that you clearly indicate
each of the seven sections of your analysis. While you should
feel free to discuss these questions with others in the class,
remember that your analysis -- your position -- should
be just that: yours. And remember that this is just an exercise;
you could easily change your mind about these questions later.
Work on one:
- #1:"Should colleges and universities include community
service as part of the requirements for graduating with
a bachelor's degree?"
1, Spring 2001)
- #2: "Is it better to move from high school directly
to college, or should high school graduates get some full-time
work experience before they return to school?"
1, Spring 2001)
5.6, from The St. Martin's Workbook, 3rd. Ed., p. 75
Cf. The New St. Martin's Handbook, pp. 92-93, 99-100
Discussion from The New St. Martin's Electronic Handbook:
"Suppose you were writing an essay about
the dangers of smoking and you want to claim that the federal
government should ban smoking. You might then qualify this
claim by suggesting that the ban be limited to all public
places. As reasons in support of your
claim, you might say that smoking causes serious diseases
in smokers and that nonsmokers are endangered by others' smoke.
A warrant (or underlying assumption) you might offer is the
fact that the Constitution was established to "promote
the general welfare" or that citizens are entitled to
protection from harmful actions by others. Since some might
debate these warrants, you might introduce as backing the
logical claim that the United States is based on a political
system that is supposed to serve the basic needs of its people,
including their health. As grounds for your claim, you could
then cite not only statistics about lung and heart disease
and the incidence of deaths attributed to secondhand smoke
but also facts about the several lawsuits won recently against
large tobacco companies and about the bans on smoking already
imposed by many public institutions and places of employment.
You might quote the U.S. surgeon general as an authority on
the subject, or President Clinton, whose experience with lung
cancer in his family is related to his stand against tobacco
use. One counterargument you could anticipate is that smokers
have rights, too -- and you could respond by reminding readers
that you are suggesting a ban only in public places. Smokers
would still be free to smoke in private. Finally, you could
state your own conclusion in the strongest way possible."
||What is the claim or thesis? (5c)
||How is the claim qualified? (5c)
||What good reasons support the claim? (5d)
||What warrants or assumptions support these reasons? (5f)
||What backs up the warrant? (5g)
||What grounds support the claim -- what facts, statistics,
testimony, and so on? (5g2)
||How are counterarguments acknowledged and responded to?
SOURCE: Runcimau, Lex. (1995). The St. Martin's
Workbook (3rd ed.). NY: St. Martin's, p. 75.
REFERENCE: Toulmin, Stephen. The Uses of Argument.
NY: Cambridge University Press, 1964.