Appeals, Logic, and Toulmin Argument Structures

last updated 10/6/09

Logic is a word that encompasses a lot of different definitions and theories or lenses.  Often Logic is held up as vastly superior to other ways of thinking, but it certainly depends on Purpose, Audience, and Genre, right?

For instance, look at these three well known Rhetorical or Argument Appeals from Aristotle (what he called Rhetorical Proofs, all of which he said could be part of a good argument):

Most academic audiences prefer Logos because if done well, it is more complex and detailed--it does not go for the rash statement or the simplistic example (Talk Radio is often not at all about Logos; Op-Ed pieces are not always about Logos).  Logos also at least has the possible sound or performance of rationality (as it often tries to avoid pathos or emotion in it's tone and in it's specifics).  You can perhaps blame things like the Age of Enlightenment for the bad rep Pathos now has in academia.  "When you calm down, I'll listen to you," says your boyfriend when you are "hysterical."  And perhaps you can blame Newton for the bad rep Ethos or "common sense"  (which cannot be proven with scientific method) has in academia.

If nothing else, taking on the lenses of western Logic can at least get you an audience among skeptics and scholars who don't get off on Pathos or Ethos.  Thus, we are talking about PAGS here--it's always an audience issue.

The following Toulmin argument or logic model can help you tell the different between good and bad arguments for academic or scholarly audiences (but as always, one must think of PAGS before simply judging).

(see Tod Harper's article "Using Toulmin Logic" at http://www.louisville.edu/provost/wroffice/new1-2harper2.html )

Deduction------>

an argument that moves from  claim (a general proposition or hypothesis) to data (Descartes --our logical mind is better than our senses?)

 

 

<------Induction

an argument that moves from data (specific details/facts/examples/observables) to claim (our senses are better than our minds?)

 

<------ Scientific Method <-----
--------> -------->

may start with induction and move toward deduction and back again...
involves predicting and testing hypotheses (Newton)

 

Toulmin Argument Structure

CLAIM
(or subclaim)

the main argument point, opinion, thesis (more abstract than data and warrants)--may have qualifiers (most, few, some--to avoid hasty generalizing)

...but watch out for overt fallacies

WARRANT

Why/how does the data support the claim?  What do the observables mean, and how do you know they mean that?

implicit and/or explicit assumptions, reasons, explanations, interpretations, reasons, meanings based on theories, ideologies, proverbs, belief systems, lenses, angles of vision) that links the the data to the claim (or that explain the data)

...but watch out for unstated fallacies

Also see Lee's Warrant lecture for more information...

DATA

evidence, facts, stats, examples (real or hypothetical), expert testimony, stories, concrete details

what appeals will be used to spin the specifics?  pathos?  ethos? logos?

 

The 2004 presidential election gave George Bush and his agenda a mandate from the American people (claimed Bush, and some pundits and journalists) i.e. High voting numbers mean the voters are really on his side; if Bush is the only president in 30 years to get those kinds of vote statistics, he must be the most convincing, the most believed and beloved president in 30 years, more special than Reagan, more special than Clinton i.e. Bush won the popular vote for the first time in decades

Bush beat Kerry by 4 million votes, the most in decades

REBUTTAL

opinions on the other side that refute the claim; rebuttals will come at you more easily if you use absolutes; often the use of rebuttals in your essay can give you a less biased feel

WARRANT

refutation of the claim's warrants, and/or the introduction of warrants that support the rebuttal and counter the claim

 

DATA

facts, examples, and other details that counter the claim and support the rebuttal

 

i.e. "we got us a mandate" - the Pablo cartoon is claiming that Bush doesn't have a mandate you need a true majority of the voters behind you to say that you have a mandate even if you received more votes than any other president in 20-30 years; only a real majority demonstrates real support ...there are 290 million people in the united states but bush only got 59 million votes which is not even half of the population and thus there is no clear mandate

 

CLAIM

WARRANT

DATA

America is a "red state" kind of place, a more conservative, God-fearing kind of nation than it used to be.

 

The more color you see, the more there are of that kind of people; you are either blue or red, atheist or God fearing; there are more liberals on the "blue" coasts, but it's the "red" heartland that rules, and thus so do their conservative ideals of mom, God, and apple pie; you should believe all the graphics you see on television, even if simplistic.

Conservatism is demonstrated by God-language and hunting and fishing; all conservative Christians are alike, are like-minded; all the people in red states are conservative

Graphics of the US after the 2004 election with most of it looking red.  The the top of http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/ 

 

We can see photos and video of George Bush talking about being a born-again Christian, and hunting and fishing and golfing, and going to church.  We can also see photos and videos of people in the red "heartland" states doing these same things.

REBUTTAL

WARRANT

DATA

But, really, this is a purple country more than anything, which means a mix of everyone and no real mandate for either side. The non-statistically correct red/blue US map gives a distorted view; the issue is about population/voters, not the largeness of your state. If you redraw the same US map in terms of population density rather than acreage, suddenly the blue parts seem to be about the same size as the red parts.  See Map #2 on the web site that tweaks the US map depending on the statistics that are being looked at.  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/ 

 

 

CLAIM

WARRANT

DATA

     

REBUTTAL

WARRANT

DATA