Examples of Searching for Warrants...

 

Warrants are an important part of a good Toulmin argument.  They are, however, difficult to think about because they are often unstated and/or abstract and unannounced.  Warrants tend to be the larger theories or lenses or ideologies someone has that allows them to argue the way they do.  Warrants are the grounds of the argument.  Sometimes when people say why something should be that way, they are stating a warrant.  The reasons, the deeper "because" of an argument, will often lead you to a warrant.  The goal, however, with a complex argument is to have a warrant or grounding that is big enough to let people with multiple viewpoints enter the conversation.

Look at these different possible warrants: which of them seem like they would invite more readers to listen?

--Claim: We should keep "one nation, under God" in the pledge of allegiance because...

--Warrant A: ...the United States is Christian nation, and to erase God is to invoke His wrath!

--Warrant B:  ...this country was founded by God-fearing men who were seeking religious freedom.  Curtailing the language of the pledge would curtail religious freedom.

--Warrant C: ...having a sense of unified purpose, which can come by having a sense of a unified belief system, can help hold this very diverse country together more efficiently especially when single-mindedness of purpose is required, say, with a response to terrorism.

--Claim: We should remove references to God in the pledge of allegiance because...

--Warrant A: ...there is no such thing as God, and therefore to mention "Him" is to give credence to a superstitious belief system.

--Warrant B: ...this country was founded by Christian men, but that does not mean this is a solely Christian nation, and thus keeping "God" in the pledge limits religious freedom

--Warrant C: ...as the founding fathers knew, combining church and state could lead to some serious abuses of power, and thus they made laws to limit the legal influence of religion, and though this doesn't mean they meant to limit the cultural influence of religion, it seems safer to limit "God" references altogether rather than allow potential leaking of religion into our legislation.

Here are some brainstormed warrants (and rebuttal ideas) we came up with for claims we were researching.  Which warrants, or grounds, seem to invite more readers?  Which invite fewer readers?  And what are the warrants of the rebuttal?  How can you critique the other side's warrants?

--Claim: corporeal punishment of children is a good thing because...

--Warrants: physical intervention teaches respect; spanking doesn’t ultimately do harm if done with logical reasons and predictable explanations; behaviorists found that negative reinforcement does have an immediate effect (negative reinforcement of rats), thus spanking is a quick way to get your point across...

--Rebuttal: respect and obedience is better achieved when from discussion and example because...

--Warrant: corporeal punishment is less civilized--spanking is barbaric; any form of physical intervention is barbaric (thus someone holding this ideology or grounding would have to grant that all physical punishment is wrong--like the death penalty)...