Using the Toulmin Method

Why Use the Toulmin Method?

The Toulmin Method is a way of doing very detailed analysis, in which we break an argument into its various parts and decide how effectively those parts participate in the overall whole. When we use this method, we identify the argument's claim, reasons, and evidence, and evaluate the effectiveness of each.

However, it can be said that Toulmin works somewhat like a formula to be applied to arguments, and that as such it exhibits some limitations. It is often not very well applied, for example, to arguments that are not themselves organized in a linear way and written in the tradition of Western rhetoric. And, as Timothy Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell point out in The Aims of Argument, this method is limited to logical analysis, and therefore excludes other types of evaluation/analysis which are equally important (such as the Critical Reading strategies mentioned elsewhere in the Writing Center.) But Toulmin proves for many to be a good starting point.

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