Toulmin, Stephen "The Layout of Arguments"

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In “The Layout of Arguments,” Stephen Toulmin’s thesis is that a new framework is needed for argumentation, as an alternative to the syllogism. The framework (or layout) he proposes involves five main components:


Toulmin's argument is particularly unique because of its attention to the warrant, which is often taken for granted. Toulmin criticizes the syllogism because universal premises such as “All men are mortal” do not properly distinguish between warrant and backing. Additionally, with a syllogism one cannot always tell whether a universal premise is true only in theory or in existential, empirical fact. Toulmin explains that logicians have too long relied on the syllogism and that in doing so they have forced arguments into a mold that doesn’t take into account subtle distinctions.

Toulmin identifies three types or warrants: authoritative (based on ethos), motivational (based on pathos), and substantive (based on logos).

Glossary Terms

The following key terms are defined in the Glossary: backing, casuistry, modal qualifiers, monotonic reasoning, non-monotonic reasoning, warrant

Notable Quotes

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