Outline of the Toulmin Model I. Claim-assertion, thesis, conclusion to be established

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Outline of the Toulmin Model

I. Claim—assertion, thesis, conclusion to be established

A. Contains topic plus controlling idea

B. Signaled by words like ought to, must, it is essential

II. Grounds—evidence, reasons, support

A. Deductive--premises from which a claim is derived

B. Inductive—sample, experiment, observation

III. Warrants—why the reasons support the claim; principles or assumptions

A. Deductive—meanings of terms, parallel argument

B. Inductive—representative sample

C. A generalization of why the evidence supports the claim.
IV. Backing—implicit assumptions that show the warrant is reliable and/or evidence to support grounds
V. Modal Qualifiers

A. Words like probably, in most instances, typically—they show when, how, and why the claim is reliable

VI. Rebuttals—counterarguments or exceptions to the claim

Claim: After school jobs create a negative experience for teens because they conflict with the essential goal of success in academics.

Grounds: Explanation that study time is essential to successful academic performance
Warrants: Explanation of importance of academics versus moneymaking for teens, using information provided by the grounds
Backing: Studies of a decline in academic performance once students take on an after-school job; testimonies of students, parents, and teachers
Modal Qualifiers: Most (Many, Some, Often, Usually) teens do not have enough spare time to succeed at both a job and school.
Rebuttals: After school jobs create a positive experience for teens because they teach the values of responsibility and time management.

Here is a sample Toulmin argumentation. The example provided will relatively help you get a clearer understanding of how this technique works. Please note this is much more informal than our assignment.

"Smoking in Public Places Should be Banned"

Smoking in public places should be banned (claim) because it puts other people, especially children and pregnant women, at risk of breathing smoke from cigarettes (ground). Smoking in public places also endangers people who have respiratory ailments (ground). Recent studies show that almost (qualifier) 80% of those who ingest secondhand smoke from public smokers have a higher risk of getting respiratory problems than smokers themselves (data).

Banning an act that causes problems to innocent civilians is helpful in many ways (warrant). If smoking in public places is banned, we actually reduce or totally eradicate the danger of putting non-smokers at risk of developing lung and heart problems (backing statement). Moreover, if we ban smoking in public places, we also stop the smokers from further increasing their chances of acquiring health problems for themselves (backing statement).

While it can be said that not all people who smoke in public areas are always causing harm to others, it remains a fact that smoking per se is a cause of health problems (rebuttal). It is not enough to say that the size of affected people are relatively just a small fraction; plenty or few, one person put at risk is more than enough (rebuttal). It is only the case that smoking in public places, therefore, should be banned.

How do you begin writing a Toulmin argument? First, understand your topic. Key to this is carefully researching background information relevant to the subject of your essay or position paper. For example, if your chosen topic is the legalization of euthanasia, research on the historical development of euthanasia as a medical practice, the implications of euthanasia from legal and moral perspectives, relevant statistics concerning the rate of euthanasia practiced across the United States, and existing alternatives to euthanasia, to name a few.

More importantly, identify the issue at hand. With regard to the topic of euthanasia, a possible issue might be: should euthanasia be legalized? There are other more interesting issues. Do not limit yourself to what is obvious or what is already widely talked about. Doing so will make your essay or position paper just another one of the thousands of essays or position papers which have already tackled the same issue.

Now that you have researched information most relevant to your topic and identified the issue, what is the next step? The next step is to categorize your researched information according to the following elements of a Toulmin argument: data/grounds, claim, warrants, qualifiers, rebuttals, and backing statements. Refer here to understand more about these elements.

After categorizing your researched information according to their appropriate categories in a Toulmin argument, structure your essay or position paper according to the order of decreasing strength of arguments. Place your strongest arguments on the first few body paragraphs of your essay. Consequently, put your least strong arguments on the latter body paragraphs. You can use a topic sentence in starting your paragraphs so that you can keep track of the flow of your arguments.

Provide a conclusion that restates your position on the issue. You may summarize your key points or reiterate your main arguments in support of your position. You may also provide a challenge to your readers, such as writing the negative consequences if your position on the issue is not accepted.

Keep in mind a few things. Avoid anticipating how your readers might react. Use more of the logos than ethos. That is, use more appeal to reason than appeal to emotion. Another reminder is to be as specific as possible in mentioning your statistics or numbers. Use credible sources and cite them appropriately. This will give more authority to the points you raise. Effective rebuttals are those which recognize the strength of the objections but overturn them by showing their negative effects when accepted.

A secret to writing an effective Toulmin argument is having as many sources of information as possible.

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