Using the Toulmin Model to Debate instead of Syllogisms


For most of my life I’ve used the simple Syllogistic Model to dissect and analyze many people’s arguments against Islam.  The best book on this topic is “A Concise Introduction to Logic,” written by Patrick J. Hurley.  [Found here]  For those that forgot what they learned in college studying Logic, or just never found the time to study Argumentation, a Syllogism is basically a way to form arguments using 2 connecting premises and a conclusion.

For example:

Premise 1: All mammals are warm-blooded.
Premise 2: All black dogs are mammals.
Conclusion: Therefore, all black dogs are warm-blooded.

Now like I said this had worked for me in identifying logical fallacies in debates, but whenever I sat down to write my own rebuttals and arguments I found this structure to be very rigid and limiting.

Recently I decided to take up another course in Rhetoric to brush up on my writing and analytical skills and in the process I came across the Toulmin Model.  For some you I might seem very late to the party, but in all truths this model seems very appealing to me.  Also, come to find out this is what most Universities are teaching Lawyers and Marketers when it comes to formulating arguments.

Just to give an official summery of what this model is: 

“The Toulmin method is an informal method of reasoning. Created by the British philosopher Stephen Toulmin it involves the grounds (data), claim, and warrant of an argument. These three parts of the argument are all necessary to support a good argument.”


These three parts can further be defined as follows:

Claim: is a statement that you are asking the other person to accept. This includes information you are asking them to accept as true or actions you want them to accept and enact.

For example: You should use a hearing aid.

Grounds: (or data) is the basis of real persuasion and is made up of data and hard facts, plus the reasoning behind the claim. It is the ‘truth’ on which the claim is based. Grounds may also include proof of expertise and the basic premises on which the rest of the argument is built.

For example: Over 70% of all people over 65 years have a hearing difficulty.

Warrant: is what links data and other grounds to a claim, legitimizing the claim by showing the grounds to be relevant. The warrant may be explicit or unspoken and implicit. It answers the question ‘Why does that data mean your claim is true?’

For example: A hearing aid helps most people to hear better.

Good video explanations:

So after the person has established the first three points then there is another three points that help you review your arguments.  I’ll leave that for the videos below to explain.  But suffice it to say, if you were to use this model whenever you are writing or analyzing your arguments, you’ll find your work coming together a lot easier.

As the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

»لايؤمن أحدكم حتى يحب لأخيه ما يحب لنفسه«

“None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

So in that spirit, without further or due, I present to you two videos that insha Allah will help you understand the Toulmin Model of Argumentation better.

The first Video:

The Second Video:

Further reading:

If you’d like to study up on this topic more, there is a very good book written by Stephen Toulmin called “The Uses of Argument,” which can be found here [link to pdf.]

Very simple explanation:

If you’re still having trouble understanding the differences, or are trying to convince a friend if he or she should switch over to the Toulmin Method or not, I suggest you share with them the video posted below.  Here, the presenter explains the major differences between Syllogistic Logic and the Toulmin approach.  Enjoy.

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