The Toulmin Model of ArgumentationWriter's Web
David Wright, Furman University English Department
(printable version here)

One method of constructing or analyzing a persuasive argument is the Toulmin model, named for its creator, British rhetorician Stephen Toulmin. The method involves breaking an argument down into six basic parts, objectively weighing and supporting points both for and against the argument. Below, Prof. David Furman has provided a video outlining the uses and parts of the Toulmin model of argumentation. After watching the video, you can test your knowledge of the Toulmin Model with a short Toulmin Model Exercise.

You can also see the video on Youtube.

Transcribed notes:

 1. The Toulmin model breaks an argument down into six main parts:
  • Claim: assertion one wishes to prove.
  • Evidence: support or rationale for the claim.
  • Warrant: the underlying connection between the claim and evidence, or why the evidence supports the claim.
  • Backing: tells audience why the warrant is a rational one. In scholarly essays, the warrant and backing would be the areas most supported by factual evidence to support the legitimacy of their assertion. In causal arguments, the warrant and backing are often taken for granted.
  • Counterargument/ Rebuttal: addresses potential objections to the claim.
  • Qualifier: additions to the claim that add nuance and specificity to its assumption, helping to counter rebuttals.

  2. The Toulmin model can be used as a framework to test an argument's validity by identifying the claim, evidence, warrants, backing, counterarguments, and qualifiers. In an academic essay, the warrant and backing would be allotted the most in-depth discussion because these aspects are normally unstated and taken for granted in causal arguments.

  3. The Toulmin model provides writers with a way to formulate or test an argument in detail, but:

  • The effectiveness of the model depends on how well one thinks critically and creatively about his or her arguments.
  • The model only acts as a heuristic for constructing an argument, not for writing the paper itself.

 Back to 'Analysis and Argument'
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