The Toulmin Method

Analyze the Anticipated Objections and Rebuttal

Anticipated Objections and Rebuttals

When writing an argument, writers must anticipate any objections their audience might use to challenge that argument. In other words, they have to make sure, to the best of their ability, that they don't leave room for their audience to pull a card out of one of the levels of their "house of cards" (thereby causing the whole structure of the argument to tumble down). In this argument, the writer has addressed two possible oppositional arguments, one having to do with availability of information on alternative grasses, and one having to do with the cost of switching to alternative landscaping.

Identifying Objection One

In providing a bridge from Reason Two (having to do with various costs of traditional landscaping) to Reason Three (having to do with the availability of alternative varieties of grasses which are more suited to the West), the writer decides to deal with an objection she anticipates from her audience: "So how come we never hear about these alternative varieties of grasses and their benefits?"

Identifying & Examining Rebuttal of Objection One

In paragraphs 10-12, the writer responds to this hypothetical objection, pointing out the biases of the lawn care industry and directing her audience toward less biased sources of information (or rather, those which are likely to give information about alternative varieties of grasses and means of landscaping).

Remember, too, that rebuttal evidence must be examined just like any other evidence. In other words, we have to judge whether or not the evidence offered in the rebuttal is valid in terms of sufficiency, credibility, and accuracy. In this case, we might notice that the writer gives no real evidence that the lawn care industry is biased, but we might also decide that such a thing is common sense, and therefore is well-argued. However, if we were looking for a way to call this reasoning into question, we might want to point out that the writer lacks evidence in this area.

Identifying Objection Two

In paragraph 14, the writer anticipates that her audience might be concerned about the expense of switching from traditional to alternative landscaping.

Identifying & Examining Rebuttal of Objection Two

In forming her rebuttal to this second objection, the writer refers back to arguments she made in paragraph 6 about "the cost saved on water and maintenance." She also mentions in paragraph 14 the possibilities of shrinking lawn space and "giv[ing it] over to heat and drought-resistant varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and groundcovers." Finally, she mentions the ways that people can save money by "choosing varieties that are perennial or reseed themselves."

Remember, too, that rebuttal evidence must be examined just like any other evidence. In other words, we have to judge whether or not the evidence offered in the rebuttal is valid in terms of sufficiency, credibility, and accuracy. In this case, we will remember that she has already supported her argument about "the cost saved on water and maintenance." And we might consider that her arguments about shrinking lawn space and about "choosing varieties that are perennial or reseed themselves" to be self-evident (common-sensical), and therefore well-argued. However, if we were looking for a way to call her reasoning into question, we might want to point out that the writer lacks evidence on these last two points.

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Introduction