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Toulmin argument format
Toulmin argument format

To spot the difference between Rogerian and Toulmin argumentative models, it is importat to know the background behind each. On the one hand, Carl Rogers was a psychologist, while Stephen Toulmin was a philosopher. Thus, it is possible to characterize the Toulmin argument structure by philosophical contemplations related to moral reasoning and focus on practical arguments. On the other hand, a Rogerian argumentative model focuses on the psychological principle of respect for the opponent’s opinion or arguments.

1. 6 Elements of the Toulmin Argument Model Structure

It is important to note that the Toulmin argument model is quite logical. It has the following interconnected elements:

  • Strong evidence (also called data, grounds, or facts, leading to the argument);
  • The evidence above support the main argument or claim (also referred to as a conclusion) with facts;
  • Such support with facts is done through a warrant (a statement showing connection between data and your claim);
  • Here, to be more persuasive, additional evidence (the backing element) backs the warrant statement;
  • However, the claim or the argument may be quite convincing, unless there are facts that can oppose it, constituing a rebuttal part;
  • This part necessitates the use of a qualifier to characterize the argument as the one that can be probably, definitale, certainly, or highly likely true.

It is necessary to note that the claim can be qualified as probably true, unless there are other circumstances (rebuttal), restricting its truthfulness.

Example of Toulmin Claim Formulation and Its Practical Use

It is important to note the practical use of Toulmin’s argumentative model in everyday life.

For example,

In 10 years, the world is highly likely to use electric cars only. International Energy Agency (IEA) (2020) points to a forty-percent annual increase in electric car sales. People have started buying more electric cars because they have realized that these are more environmentally friendly. Governments of different countries have developed environment-saving initiatives, supporting transitioning to electric vehicles. In a decade, the world is highly likely to use electric cars only, unless the research proves that their batteries cause more harm to the environment than petrol engines.”

The qualifier here is “highly likely.” The fact is supported by an in-text citation.

2. Scheme Illustrating Toulmin’s Model

Toulmin's structure
Toulmin model structure and example

The scheme above illustrates interconnections between 6 elements. It is necessary to note that the warrant serves as a medium between the fact and the claim. In other words, it bridges the gap between these 2 elements. The backing of the warrant is necessary in the case when the latter is not convincing enough. Attach the qualifier and the rebuttal element directly to the argument.

Organizing an Essay Using the Toulmin Argument Model Above

Finally, it is important to use all theoretical points and the scheme above in practice in the 5-paragraph essay form:

  • In introduction, introduce your claim, any background information, and a thesis statement, clearly articulating the argument with the fact why it is true;
  • In the first body paragraph of the paper, you have to develop the evidence element and show its connection to the claim;
  • Furthermore, in the second paragraph, develop the warrant element, backing it;
  • In the third paragraph, focus on rebuttal, presenting factors that may influence the qualifier (for example, it may be likely, unless…).
  • Summarize the main points in the conclusion.

Overall, the main advice is to use the model in your everyday life, when you want to claim something. It will help to train your argumentative and persuasive skills. In what situations do you offer to apply Toulmin’s argument? Leave your replies in comments.

Reference

International Energy Agency. (2020). Global EV outlook 2020: Entering the decade of electric drive? https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2020

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