Toulmin’s model of argumentation

Stephen Toulmin has developed a model for how arguments are constructed. Toulmin’s model is good for analyzing simple arguments. It is therefore good for analyzing opinions in TV interviews, advertisements, short news articles, SMSs, Facebook updates and similar concise texts. It can also be used when delving into individual and central arguments in a longer and more complex argument, such as a chronicle, speech, longer discussions and the like.

Toulmin’s model is built around three basic and three complementary elements. The basics will always be present in an argument, whereas the three additional elements may be present in an argument, although they rarely occur simultaneously.

Toulmin’s basic model

He also operates with assertion and evidence, and so he believes that there is a legal basis that establishes a link between assertion and the evidence. The home is the mortar that ties the claim and the coating together.

The home can be found in two ways. The simple concrete way is to identify the home as the connection between assertion and evidence: “if x is valid, then y also applies.” Here you simply insert the assertion and the coating.

  • Release me, and let me go home, for I have not committed any murder.”
  • Claim: Release me and let me go home
  • Evidence: I have not committed any murder
  • Secret: If I have not committed a murder, then I can be released.

The second way of uncovering the home is to find out what principle or notion the evidence and the claim is based on. This is more abstract than just “if x, then y”, in that it is precisely aimed at finding the basic principle or notion on which the argument is connected. Where the simple and concrete way of finding the home means that the home can only be said to apply to just one argument, the more abstract way will see the home as an expression of general principles and conceptions that could be used in connection with many others arguments. You can do this more generally by replacing ‘i’ with ‘man’:

  • “Release me and let me go home, for I have not committed any murder.”
  • Claim: Release me and let me go home
  • Evidence: I have not committed any murder
  • Secret: If one has not committed a murder, one must be released.

In doing so, it becomes an expression of something more general in that it applies not only to ‘I’ but to everyone – ‘man’. But you can make it even more general:

Secret: If you have not committed anything criminal, then you can not withheld.

Here, the home becomes an expression of something more abstract in that it applies not only to murder, but to all forms of crime, thereby becoming a principle that is further general. You can actually set the law to “not detain innocents”, and here the law is so much more general. In this way, the home may be said to illustrate the basic assumption one has – for example, that one does not detain innocents.

The home can therefore be understood as the basic premise, notion, general principle which the sender thinks is generally applicable and therefore uses as the basis for his argument. Since the home is typically derived from basic principles or logical conceptions, it is rare for the sender to refer to them directly in his or her argument, and therefore the home is typically implicit in the argument.

The home is especially important to uncover when engaging in a discussion. Because the legal basis is the link between the claim and the evidence, the legal basis is the basis of the argument, and this is why you can use it if you have to argue. The question is whether one can buy the general notion on which the argument is based?

Here is an example from the Metroexpress newspaper website on January 23, 2013

“New research: Facebook makes you envious and unhappy. A new German study shows that well over a third feel envy after a tour of Facebook. The researchers claim that envy created on Facebook has a negative effect on people’s joy. ” The statement is clear and stands at the top, as is typical of news articles, cf. 

news triangle: Facebook makes you envious and unhappy. Then comes the pavement: German study shows that well over a third feel envy after being on facebook. Therefore, the simple legal basis is if a third of a group interviewed in one study says they have felt envy after going on facebook, then facebook makes you envious. It’s pretty interesting several points. According to the study, two-thirds are not envious after being on facebook. Can you then join you too become envious? There is a 66% probability that you do not. One Another thing is how long the envy lasts. One is to feel envy to have been on facebook, but something else is to be envious of a general property. Examining the home part makes it clear that Metroexpress’ journalist has made a claim that there is not one evidence of. The argument falls to the ground and there are no teams the claim.

Toulmin’s extended model

To secure its legal basis, the sender may use a back cover, which may be evidence of his claim. It will typically be research results, studies, documents or the like, but it can also be experience. Therefore, if Toulmin’s extended model is used, a scientific study or years of experience should not be considered as a cover, but as a back cover for the home.

  •      In the above example from Metroexpress you can say that it
  •      German study is back cover for the home.
  •      The claim is: Facebook makes you envious and unhappy.
  •      The Coating: Well, a third feel envy after going on
  •      facebook.
  •      The home is, therefore, if a third say they have felt envy
  •      after being on facebook, you also become envious of being
  •      on facebook
  •      Back cover: A German study says.

Reproduction is another element of Toulmin’s model, and that term denotes the wording in which the sender tries to make reservations about a counterpart’s point of view. Thus, disclosure is found in the sender’s argument having already included a counterpart’s point of view and subsequently arguing against the point of view – which has not been sent by anyone other than the sender itself. We find this in the example below.

And then, critical voices will surely say that when the government will cut a bit in everyone student SU to give some other students something more SU, then the government disregards the principle of equal justice and opportunity education. There, I just want to say that we simply give the students who are extra hard work and getting ready in standard time, a little extra hand stretching because with the restraint of SU is free to have to take work next to their studio.

  • The assertion: We give the students who finish in the prescribed time a hand
  • Occupancy: They do not need to take work next to the studio
  • Home: You don’t have to take a job next to the studio if the SU is high enough
  • Disclaimer: Critical voices will surely say that the government disregards the principle of equal rights and opportunities for education.
  • The rebuttal is linked to the assertion, which is typically the assertion one rejects.

The last element of Toulmin’s model is strength marker. The strength marker is an expression of how much strength the sender puts into their argument for the claim. It can be seen from some linguistic wording, such as ‘definitely’, ‘reasonably’, ‘slightly in doubt’ and many other types of wording that illustrate the strength of the argument – how confident is the sender of his assertion? Thus, the strength marker is also linked to the assertion in the model

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