Structuring and Analyzing Arguments: The Classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian Models



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Structuring and Analyzing Arguments: The Classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian Models

  • Junior AP English

Key Terms: Deductive vs. Inductive Reasoning

  • Deductive Reasoning = in traditional Aristotelian logic, the process of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the stated premises; inference by reasoning from the general to the specific
  • Inductive Reasoning = the process of reasoning from the specific to the general, in which the premises of an argument are believed to support the conclusion but do not ensure it. Inductive reasoning is used to formulate laws based on limited observations of recurring patterns.

Key Terms: The Syllogism

  • Three-part deductive argument, in which conclusion follows from two premises
  • A straightforward example:
  • Major premise: All people have hearts.
  • Minor premise: John is a person.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, John has a heart.

Classical Argument

  • Began in ancient Greece, approximately fifth century B.C.
  • Communicated orally and designed to be easily understood by listeners
  • Based on formal logic, including the syllogism
  • Six main components

Classical Argument: Six Elements

  • 1) Introduction: captures attention of audience; urges audience to consider your case
  • 2) Statement of Background: narrates the key facts and/or events leading up to your case
  • 3) Proposition: states the position you are taking, based on the information you’ve already presented, and sets up the structure of the rest of your argument
  • 4) Proof: discusses your reasons for your position and provides evidence to support each reason
  • 5) Refutation: anticipates opposing viewpoints; then demonstrates why your approach is the only acceptable one (i.e. better than your opponents’)
  • 6) Conclusion: summarizes your most important points and can include appeals to feelings or values (pathos)

Classical Argument: example

  • Introduction:
  • Dog is said to be ‘man’s best friend’, but is their function in our human society even more integral than this quote portrays?
  • 2. Statement of background:
  • Dogs are loyal, loving, perpetually optimistic, athletic, and obedient.
  • 3. Proposition (Thesis):
  • Dogs have been essential to human society since the dawn of our civilization, evolving from hunting companions and personal protection to the modern utility of seeing eye dogs and police canine units. Dogs are essential to our society because they aid humans physically, emotionally, and socially.

Classical Argument: example cont.

  • 4. Proof:
  • Physically, dogs are integral helpers and motivators, from sheep herders to taking your dog on walks. Emotionally, dogs are loyal and loving, always there to greet you at the door, their love unconditional (even when undeserved). Socially, dogs not only invite interactions with other humans, but can also aid people who have socially debilitating handicaps.
  • 5. Refutation:
  • The ‘cat people’ would say that cat’s too can be loving and loyal, but no cat could drag a grown man from a burning building to save his life. The ‘cat people’ would say that no human beings die from cat attacks, while dog attacks create injuries or even take lives every year. While this is a factual statement, it oversimplifies the issue. Dogs do not attack humans unprovoked – a dog who attacks has been abused, mistreated, or is responding to a threat, or assumes they are protecting their loved ones. Do cats only attack when provoked? Absolutely not.
  • 6. Conclusion:
  • Ultimately, Dogs are not only ‘mans best friend’ but also an essential and valuable cog in the machinery of human society. They help us to better function, help us to better feed not only our stomachs, but also our hearts and souls.

The Toulmin Model

  • Developed by British philosopher Stephen Toulmin in the 1950’s
  • Emphasizes that logic often based on probability rather than certainty
  • Focuses on claims
  • Three primary components

Toulmin Model: Three Components

  • Three components:
  • Claim = the main point or position
  • Data = the evidence supporting the claim, aka the reasons
  • Warrant = an underlying assumption or basic principle that connects data and claim; often implied rather than explicit

Toulmin Model: An Example

  • Claim = My parents should allow me to go to my friend’s party on Friday night.
  • Data = The parents of nearly all of the juniors at UNHP have given their children permission to attend this party.
  • Warrant = My parents should act in accordance with the other parents of juniors at UNHP.

Uh-oh, a potential snag…

  • What if my parents don’t “buy” my warrant? What if they don’t think they should necessarily do what other parents are doing?
  • How can I still get permission to attend the party? Or at least have a better chance of getting permission?

Try new data and a new warrant.

  • What might be more convincing data for an audience of parents?
  • What might be a warrant that most parents will share?

Toulmin Argumentation in More Detail

  • Claim
  • Data
  • Qualifier
  • Warrant
  • Backing
  • Rebuttal

Rogerian Model

  • Developed by psychologist Carl Rogers (also in the ’50s)
  • Emphasizes problem-solving and/or coming to consensus
  • Allows the author to appear open-minded or even objective
  • Appropriate in contexts where you need to convince a resistant opponent to at least respect your views

Rogerian Arguments:Structure

  • Introduction: statement of problem to be solved or question to be answered
  • Summary of Opposing Views: described using a seemingly objective persona
  • Statement of Understanding: concedes circumstances under which opposing views might be valid
  • Statement of Your Position
  • Statement of Contexts: describes contexts in which your position applies/works well
  • Statement of Benefits: appeals to self-interest of readers who may not yet agree with you; demonstrates how your position benefits them

Rogerian Arguments: example

  • 1. Introduction: Should students wear uniforms?
  • 2. Summary of opposing views: Some argue YES as uniforms create a sense of equality and highlight the person, not the materials they wear. Others say NO because uniforms limit self expression and individuality.
  • 3. Statement of Understanding: I understand the point of view that uniforms, in making students look the ‘same’, may also make them feel they are all ‘the same’, unable to express their personal style and individuality.
  • 4. Statement of Your Position: However, I think the above belief is mistaken, because – in reality – it should not be the materials we wear that define who we are, but rather our actions, our words, our talents. With this in mind, I believe uniforms are a quality addition to any school policy.
  • 5. Statement of Contexts: If your shoes are Nike brand, that does not tell me your are a talented athlete, merely that you or your parents have the money to purchase Brand names. If you wear purple, that does not tell me you are a talented artist, merely that you have a preference for purple.
  • 6. State of Benefits: Meanwhile, in a uniform, brand names do not exist, and economic status is no longer a barrier. In a uniform, rather than your clothes speaking for you, you speak for yourself. In a uniform, you must prove – to the world and yourself – that you are a talented athlete, or artist, or mathematician. Ironically, by making everyone look ‘the same’, uniforms allow us to TRULY become unique.


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