CATA 335 - ARGUMENTATION

Dr. Lee McGaan  

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"THE TOULMIN BRIEF"
last updated 10/7/2008

Written Materials for the Debate Project

For the written portion of the final (debate) project each debate team (affirmative or negative) will prepare and submit a "Toulmin Brief" based on the debate case your team presented. Both members will receive the grade on the brief. The "brief" will be constructed in the following manner:

TITLE PAGE will contain the topic/title, your names, course, date, etc.

SECTION 1 will present the proposition you argued for or against and definitions used in the case by both teams.

SECTION 2 will present an "overview" Toulmin diagram of the general argument of the brief. The main claim will be the proposition as stated in section 1; the grounds for this general Toulmin diagram will be organized in relation to the requirements of a case. For members of affirmative teams this will include significance, inherent problems, plan solvency, workability, advantages of the plan, rebuttal of disadvantages, etc.). Negative team members will generally provide the reverse based on the arguments they presented during the debate. (That is, negative grounds will often be similar to affirmative grounds except they will contain the word "not.").  Negative briefs may also include arguments that do not parallel the affirmative case such as, workability arguments, disadvantages, etc.  For affirmative briefs, the plan does not require a Toulmin diagram (in section 3) but it should be presented in outline form at the appropriate point in section 2.

You must provide the (policy) warrant and backing. You may provide a qualifier (in this and other Toulmin diagrams in the brief) indicating accurately the degree to which you are confident of the truth of your assertions (based on the evidence you use) and you may also wish to include a rebuttal if your evidence indicates conditions under which the policy should not be adopted. [NOTE: what appear as grounds in this section will become claims in section 3.]

SECTION 3 will present (in the same order as in section 2) a set of Toulmin diagrams for each contention/claim in your case (and diagrams for sub-points falling under contentions as appropriate and necessary). Here you will present your evidence (as grounds) needed to support your claims as strongly as you can (given the strength of the evidence) complete with citations (indicating the source of your information/gr.s in correct MLA or APA format), the claim, and the warrant.  Identify each warrant by typeYou may wish to include backing (e.g. qualifications of experts, etc.), qualifier, and rebuttal.

Affirmative briefs will contain Toulmin diagrams dealing with problem claims and solvency claims.  In many cases affirmative briefs will also include workability claims, additional advantage claims and claims refuting negative attacks, as appropriate.  In addition to claims attacking the affirmative's problems as not true or not significant, or not inherent, negative briefs will need to include a number of different solvency, workability and, if appropriate, disadvantage arguments.  In all briefs, section 3 should contain "in-text citations" for evidence you have obtained from external sources through your research.

SECTION 4 will be the "Works Cited" page (if you are using MLA format for citations in Section 3) or the "References" page (if you are using APA citation format).

I will evaluate this assignment by determining

a) Are your Toulmin diagrams correct? 

b) Have you avoided errors in reasoning (e.g. overstating your claim, fallacies, etc.)? 

c) Does your brief meet (or defeat) "the requirements of the case?" accurately and effectively?

d) Have you demonstrated a substantial understanding of your topic as shown by the quantity and quality of research materials (evidence/grounds) used?

NOTE:  You also have the option of submitting a brief as an individual.  If you do so, it must cover the entire case your team presented and include the evidence and arguments presented by your partner. Of course, partners must share evidence and outlines. If each member of the team submits an individual brief, I will not be surprised or concerned if the outlines and arguments are very similar for the two papers; however, I expect you to work independently on the warrants in sections 2 & 3.


CATA Portfolio Requirement Guidance
This assignment is related to the following CATA Major Learning Outcome Goals:

I.  Messages (research paper) 
II. B.  Knowledge.
How communication influences beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, policies.
III.  AApplication. Understand how a text or communication event influences civic culture.
III.  BApplication.  How communication principles can be applied to practical issues such as conflict management, problem-solving, construction of persuasive programs, cases or messages
IV. B  Skills.  Group/team contexts and skills in listening, outlining, using graphic and verbal support material or conducting library research

If you intend to save this assignment for potential use in your CATA Professional Portfolio, you will need to save

  • an electronic copy of your "Toulmin Brief"