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Writing

This Guide was created as a joint project of the Academic Resource Center and the William H. Hannon Library.

Argument

A structure of argument commonly used in academia is the Toulmin Model, a specific way of ordering syntax that we will focus on.

Navigating the Toulmin in Academic Writing

In David Wright's video The Toulmin Model of Argumentation he explains the proceedings of creating a Toulmin style argument in academic writing. For our example we will use a thesis statement for an essay.

General Claim: Your bold sweeping statement of argument - "Cars over 20 years old should not be allowed on the road"

Specific Evidence: The "because" or "why" to your claim, with no hard data or support yet. - "Older cars pollute more and are less safe than newer cars."

Warrant that points to the data: Look at your evidence and consider the points that you made about your subject. "Older cars are this, this and this compared to newer cars". In your warrant you must elaborate on your "this-es". Think of these as a sort of middle ground between the specificity of the evidence and hard data ("sub-reasons") - "Removing older cars from the road would result in a cleaner environment and fewer accident related injuries and deaths."

Backing with hard data: All of your hard data and factual support pertaining to the warrant. "Automobile exhaust is a major contributor to greenhouse gases... 50% or people with cancer use paper plates and drive Hummers. John Smith, who was arrested for burning oil barrels in his backyard, displayed a 400 White Blood Cell count..."

Rebuttals: Extra paragraphs or sentences that you would add concerning an opposing view. Extra kudos if you can defend your view against the opposing view. Think "kick your own butt"!

1. If your backing is "Automobile exhaust is a major contributor to greenhouse gases... 50% or people with cancer use paper plates and drive Hummers."

2. Someone could rebute by saying, "The causes of cancer are a medical mystery, and even enviromentalists develop it. So, a cancer is not a direct and singular consequence of pollution."

3. Then you could defend by saying, "In Bloomfield's 2008 study, it was discovered that a higher instance of remission in cancer patients was found in those who did not drive cars made after 2000. So although cancer is not caused by pollution, pollution by older cars is a related cause of more death within cancer patients, which makes them less safe to the health of humanity."

Qualifiers: Words added to the initial claim to tone down the "sweeping-ness" of the argument. - "Most cars over twenty years old should not be allowed unlimited access to the road."

Writing Activity for Argument

After reading the above information on outlining, attempt the writing activity below for further practice. 

Links to Other Resources