Dr. Lee McGaan  

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last updated 9/2/2008


A Toulmin Analysis of Arguments

by Lee McGaan, Department of Communication Studies, Monmouth College (IL)
adapted from Stephen Toulmin. The Uses of Argument, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1958

The Three Primary Elements of an Argument

    1. Claim (assertion, proposition)
      1. A statement affirming or denying something
      2. the answer to the question "What are you trying to prove?" "What's your point?" - Can be denied (in this context)
    2. Grounds (Support, evidence)
      1. material which will convince audience/opponent
      2. not likely to be disputed (in this context) OR can be further supported.
      3. usually more concrete, often narrower (or a general truth).
      4. an answer to the question, "How so?" "Why do you think so?" "Prove it!"
      5. It is appropriate for the claim because it is relevant and strong.
    3. Warrant: what links support/gr. to cl. Why the gr. is allowed to stand as proof for the claim
      1. A principle of logic or reasoning
      2. a recipe or license
      3. often a formal rule
      4. generally unstated, an assumption that both rhetor and audience implicitly accept
      5. the key is that a warrant can apply to many claims and grounds. It's not specific to just this situation.


Claim:  Joe Smith is a good choice for the position of Appellate Court Judge

Grounds:  The American Bar Association recommended Smith as well qualified.

Warrant:  (usually unspoken)  The ABA is an authority source known as competent to determine who is a good choice for appellate judge positions.