Toulmin Model

The Toulmin Model

Objectives: Students will be able to apply Toulmin model in an argumentative writing.

Resource: Read more about the Toulmin method (27-33)

Do Now:  Of all the concepts or methods below, pick one to explain what it means how it is used in an argumentative writing. Share in class.

  • Arguments of facts
  • arguments of value
  • arguments of policies
  • claim
  • support
  • warrant
  • backing
  • qualifier
  • reservation
  • rebuttal

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

  • A claim is an assertion
  • The support consists of the data used as evidence, reasons, or grounds for the claim.
  • A warrant expresses the assumption necessarily shared by the speaker and the audience.
  • Similar to the second premise of a syllogism, it serves as a guarantee, linking the claim to the support.
  • Backing consists of further assurances or data without which the warrant lacks authority
  • A qualifier, when used (e.g., “usually,” “probably,” “in most cases,” “most likely”), restricts the terms of the claim and limits its range, indicating the degree of strength delivered by the warrant.
  • A reservation explains the terms and conditions necessitated by the qualifier.
  • A rebuttal gives voice to objections, providing the conditions that might refute or rebut the warranted claim.

Toulmin states it this way: Data, so (qualifier) claim, since warrant, on account of backing, unless reservation.

A good classroom model is : Because (data as support), therefore, or so (qualifier?) (claim), since (warrant), because, or on account of (backing), unless (reservation).

Data (It is raining.) Claim (I should take my umbrella.) ↑ ↑ ↑ Warrant Qualifier Reservation (It will keep me dry.) (Probably.) (Unless it has a hole in it.) ↑ Backing (The material is impervious or waterproof.)

“Because it is raining, I should probably take my umbrella, since it will keep my head dry on account of its impervious or waterproof material, unless, of course, there is a hole in it.”

Independent Practice

Use the following sentence construction: “Because__________, therefore,______ ____, since__________, on account of__________.

Carefully read the following passage from “Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids and Why,” by former New York State Teacher of the Year and author John Taylor Gatto, published in Harper’s Magazine. Then write an essay in which you support, refute, or qualify Gatto’s claim that public education trains children to be mass consumer robots and ultimately limits growth potential. Use appropriate evidence to develop your position

Because textbook authors are filling their books with charts, graphs, and pictures, therefore education is declining in this country, since less written information equals less learning.” Data Claim (Textbooks contain charts, graphs, pictures.) (Education is declining.) ↑ Warrant (Learning comes from written text.) ↑ Backing (Traditionally, students have been learning from written text.)

Rebutal: Then the student casts his own response into the model as well: “Because graphs, charts, and pictures provide information, they do not hinder the education system, since that information is a supplement to written text.” In this case, he does not include a qualifier or reservation. Data Claim (Graphs, charts, and pictures provide info.) (Visuals do not hinder education.) ↑ Warrant (Visual information supplements written text.) ↑ Backing (Students learn from a variety of media.)

As he presents his claim, he doesn’t argue with Rock’s data. He acknowledges its validity, as far as it goes (effecting a reasonable voice through its appeal to logos and pathos), and then zeros in on the warrant with a pair of rhetorical questions: “Much of Rock’s argument is indisputable; however, some of it can be interpreted in different ways. Take, for instance, his criticism of textbooks for using too many visuals, particularly of a map replacing a topographical description. Is the map really a bad thing? Are any of the charts and graphs a bad thing?” [sic] This student goes on to argue the value of visuals not as replacements for, but as supplements to, written text—developing a qualified and reasoned argumen

Another student addresses a similar issue, that of “teaching to the test” (a favorite target of students), and casts her claim into the model. She reasons that “because teachers are modifying lesson plans to teach only to a specific test, therefore students are losing the ability to think deeply about concepts, since such specialized teaching does not allow a child to learn any more about a topic on a broader or deeper scale, unless teachers are able to teach to the test while still incorporating additional enriching material.” The reservation she presents at the end is one that might well appeal to teachers; indeed it is one that can make an effective appeal in the written argument.

The Things They Carried is not an accurate depiction of the Vietnam War, but rather a portrayal of personal truth—what the war meant to the soldiers and how it changed them. O’Brien is trying to bridge the gap between the soldier and the audience. This chapter (“How to Tell a True War Story”) is important to the story as a whole because it undermines the conventions of storytelling. Data Claim (The selected chapter undermines (It is important to the conventions of storytelling.) the story as a whole.) ↑ Warrant (The novel’s unconventional narrative structure is a significant feature of its literary merit.) (The selected chapter demonstrates that significance.) ↑ Backing (Narrative method is an important feature of fiction.) (The content, style, rhetoric, and theme of the chapter) In this case, the warrants and their backing indicate what will become the substance of the body of the essay. Arguing that the story, and not the war, is O’Brien’s subject, her essay concludes, “It is in this way that true war stories are never about war. They are about love, memories, and sorrow—the heaviest things they had to carry.”

Homework: Revise your argument essay using the new Toulmin tool.