Toulmin Analysis Essay (See syllabus/schedule for due date)
In class we will discuss and evaluate the method of argument analysis developed by the British philosopher Stephen Toulmin. Afterwards, you will select one of the essays from the assigned section of our Portal page and write a Toulmin analysis of the argument(s) presented in the essay. 4-6 Pages, Double-spaced, MLA format.
1. Select an essay from the assigned section of our Portal page.
2. In your introduction, introduce the overall topic, the main thesis of the article you are analyzing, and your thesis on whether or not you find the argument effective and convincing. What, in Toulmin terms, makes the argument strong or weak?
3. Try to find the central claim of the article you are analyzing. How do you know it is the claim? Is it stated or implied? Is it a claim of fact, value or policy? Does the author provide a qualifier and/or a rebuttal for their claim? If not, does the absence of these elements weaken the claim or not?
4. Look at the data/evidence the author provides for their claim. Is the evidence clear? Is it fair? Is it relevant, reliable and representative? Do you get a sense that the author has selectively chosen evidence and ignored other evidence in order to strengthen their claim? Can you demonstrate this? Does the evidence support the particular type of claim the author has made (fact, value or policy)? You may need to do some external research on the Library Databases to help you determine how relevant, authoritative and reliable the data is which the author of your chosen essay provides in support of its claim.
5. Can you identify the warrant (the unstated assumption that connects the claim and the data) of the essay you are reading? Does the warrant do a sufficient job of connecting the data to the warrant? Why or why not? Is it a substantive (logos-based), authoritative (ethos-based) or motivational (pathos-based) warrant? Does this type of warrant best suit the type of claim the author is making and the type of evidence they provide to support this claim?
6. Does the author provide backing (evidence) for their warrant? If not, would the presence of evidence for their warrant strengthen the argument in any way? Why or why not?
7. Is there anything in the essay that needs an extended definition? How might this affect the overall argument with regard to the Toulmin-labeled relationships between the ideas?
8. What is your assessment of the overall effectiveness of the argument? Is it persuasive? Why or why not? What, in Toulmin terms, could be changed to make it more persuasive?