Sometimes you will be asked to analyze and create arguments. You can do this by using the Toulmin model. You will learn in this lesson the different components of the Toulmin model and how to use them to create arguments.
Components of the Toulmin Model
Gilbert is the manager of a small office supply store. He is in a company meeting to decide which employee in his store will earn a bonus for the year. He has five employees, but only two can get a bonus. He writes down a few of the attributes of each of the employees and discusses his options with the rest of the managers in the company. Each member of the company must create a presentation in support of one of the employees. The company members can use a concept called the Toulmin model to build the argument they need in support of one of the employees.
In this lesson, you will learn about the components of the Toulmin model and how to build an argument for the speech using your model.
What Is the Toulmin Model?
The Toulmin model is an instrument comprised of three to five components that uses data to create and analyze an argument; these components are claim, data, warrant, qualifier, and rebuttal. The most commonly used components are claim, data, and warrant. However, you will also see a qualifier and a rebuttal in some arguments. This is why there are three to five components in the Toulmin model. The model was created by Stephen Toulmin, a British philosopher in the 1950s.
Toulmin found a way to create arguments while breaking down and analyzing existing arguments. The Toulmin model is very similar to using some type of reasoning to deduce a conclusion. However, this time, you are using some sort of data or fact to argue your point. Creating an argument using the Toulmin model is kind of like putting together a puzzle. The different components of the Toulmin model can be arranged to make a solid argument in persuasion.
First, let’s talk about the claim, data, and warrant used in the Toulmin model.
Claim, Data, ; Warrant
Let’s go back to Gilbert and his five employees that are in the running for getting a bonus. Take a look at this chart:
These are Gilbert’s notes on each employee, each including the pros and cons. Gilbert believes he can use this list to help make a decision on which employee deserves the bonus.
The claim, when referring to the Toulmin model, is the conclusion of an argument. This is the point that the speaker is trying to make; the essence of the argument. ‘Employee number one should get a bonus’ is an example of a claim. In fact, each employee deserving a bonus would be an example of a claim. You’ve probably heard people say something like, ‘that movie was bad’ or ‘go to that hairdresser; he’s really good.’ These are all claims to an argument. But you are probably thinking the same question for each of these claims: why? Why is that hairdresser good? Why is that movie bad? Why does employee number one deserve a bonus?
The answer to all of these questions is the second component of Toulmin’s model: data or supporting material. The data, when referring to the Toulmin Model, is the supporting material, or evidence presented as the grounds or backing of an argument. The data is the foundation of an argument in the Toulmin model. Without the data, you don’t have an argument.
In the case of Gilbert’s employees, the data could be any of the information Gilbert collected. For example, if the argument was ’employee number one deserves a raise because he has a good attendance and sales record,’ the first part of his argument is the claim, and the second is the data.
Now that the question ‘why does employee number one deserve a bonus?’ has been answered, the next question is ‘why is attendance and sales record more important than time with the company, friendliness, initiative, or the ability to lead?’ This takes us to the bridge between the data and the claim, which is the warrant.
The warrant, when referring to the Toulmin model, is the sequence of reasoning that links the data to the claim in the argument. Often, you will see warrants as part of logical reasoning, such as deductive, inductive, causal, or analogical. However, warrants can also be just statements or premises.
In Gilbert’s case, he can say employee number one deserves a bonus because his attendance and sales records are good; without these, the business would not run as effectively. The warrant is the reasoning as to why the attendance and sales records are important in determining bonuses.
You’ll see claim, data, and warrant used most commonly when dealing with Toulmin’s model, but we will discuss rebuttal and qualification, too – just in case you come across them.
Qualifier ; Rebuttal
The other two elements of the Toulmin model that you may come across are qualifier, or qualification, and rebuttal. A qualifier, when referring to the Toulmin model, is the limit or boundary of the argument. If Gilbert said, ’employee number one deserves a bonus if his attendance and sales record remain good for the next month because without these, the business would not run as effectively,’ then the qualifier of this argument would be the limit of employee number one maintaining a good sales and attendance record.
Gilbert could also make another argument: ‘Initiatives in the company are important for growth and improvement (warrant). Employee number two, number three, and number five have initiatives (data). Employees that have made initiatives in their position deserve a bonus (claim), unless they have had a poor sales record (qualifier).’
Notice that employee number five has been with the company for ten years and is tied with employee number two for the most initiatives. Unfortunately, because employee number five has a poor sales record, this would limit him or her from receiving the bonus. Sometimes you will need to be prepared for any counter arguments that occur. This is where you would need a rebuttal, a discussion of possible counters to an argument.
Gilbert could say, ‘Initiatives in the company are important for growth and improvement (warrant). Employee number two, number three, and number five have initiatives (data). Employees that have made initiatives in their position deserve a bonus (claim), unless they have a poor sales record (qualifier). I think that loyalty and time with the company is commendable, but a poor sales record is bad for the company and counters any initiatives that are made (rebuttal).’
By using a rebuttal, Gilbert preemptively counters some of the objections that may come from other employees. The rebuttal in the Toulmin model can also help you in public speaking if you are trying to persuade a certain target audience. By using the rebuttal to acknowledge any objections that your audience may have, you will prevent a certain amount of misunderstanding and lack of persuasive appeal.
The Toulmin model is a great way to build and analyze arguments in both academic writing and for persuasive public speaking. The Toulmin model is an instrument comprised of three to five components that uses data to create and analyze an argument. The Toulmin model’s components include claim, data, warrant, qualification, and rebuttal.
The claim is the conclusion of an argument. This is the point that the speaker is trying to make. The data is the supporting material, or evidence, presented as grounds or backing of an argument. This is the foundation of an argument, and without it, you don’t have an argument. The warrant is the sequence of reasoning that links data to the claim in the argument. A qualifier is the limit or boundary of the argument, and lastly, there is the rebuttal, which is a discussion of possible counters to an argument.
Absorb the lesson’s main points, then go on to:
- Specify the purpose of the Toulmin model
- Highlight the components of the Toulmin model