Structuring and Analyzing Arguments: The Classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian Models AP English Language and Composition
Classical Argument • Invented by Greek philosopher, Aristotle • Was originally communicated orally and designed to be easily understood by listeners • Best used when the purpose of your argument is to persuade your audience to agree with your point of view, take your side on an issue, or make a decision in your favor • Relies heavily on ethos, pathos, and logos • Six main components
Component 1: Introduction (exordium)*in writing, components 1 and 2 usually appear together • Objective: attract interest of audience and focus it on the subject of the argument. • Establish why this issue is relevant to the audience • Popular rhetorical strategies: • Begin with quotation • Ask a question • State problem or controversy • Give an analogy • Attack on an opposing point of view (especially if it’s a more popular one than yours • Personal anecdote
Component 2: Narration (narratio) • Objective: statement of background • Provide factors or events leading to your issue • Establish your role as it relates to the subject or to your audience • Signals the writer’s specific position on the issue and/or the direction of her/his argument. • Establishes image of writer (ethos) you want to project (caring, aggressive, passionate, etc)
Component 3: Proposition (partitio or divisio) • Objective: state your thesis • Outline the subtopics of your issue • Outline the arguments that you will address in detail later in the essay (in the order in which they appear)
Component 4: Proof (confirmatio) • Objective: prove your thesis • Composed of claims (reasons for your position) and evidence to support your thesis • Uses logos, ethos, and pathos to prove your case • Should rely mostly on logic
Component 5: Refutation (refutatio) • Objective: counterargument • Concede opponents’ viewpoint without damaging your case • Anticipate objections to your argument • Popular rhetorical strategies: • Show by the use of facts, reasons, and testimony that the opposing point is totally wrong based on incorrect evidence, questionable assumptions, bad reasoning, prejudice, or ill will. • Show that opposition has some merit but is flawed (it may be true only in some circumstances or it may only apply to certain people or conditions).
Popular rhetorical strategies continued: • Show that the opposition has merits but is outweighed by other considerations. You are claiming that truth is relative: when a difficult choice has to be made, the benefits of your case outweigh the risks • Show that the reasoning used by the opposition is flawed: in other words, that it contains logical fallacies.
Component 6: Conclusion (peroratio) • Objective: tie your essay together • Create a sense of finality or closure • Answer the questions or solve the problem stated in the introduction—“close the circle” and give the readers a feeling of completion and balance. • Can add a “final blast”—a big emotional or ethical appeal—that helps sway the audience’s opinion.
The Toulmin Model • Developed by British philosopher Stephen Toulmin in the 1950’s • Best when you try to make a case on controversial issues that do not have an absolute truth • Emphasizes that logic is often based on probability rather than certainty • Focuses on claims • Three primary components
Toulmin Model: Three Components • Three components: Claim = the main point or position Data = the evidence supporting the claim, aka the reasons Warrant= an underlying assumption or basic principle that connects data and claim; often implied rather than explicit (Essentially the basic structure of a Toulmin argument is: I believe_(claim)___ because ___(data)__. I believe this because ____(warrant)___.)
Toulmin Model: An Example Claim = My parents should allow me to go to my friend’s party on Friday night. Data = The parents of nearly all of my friends have given their children permission to attend this party. Warrant = My parents should let me do things my friends’ parents let their kids do.
Uh-oh, a potential snag… If your audience doesn’t agree with your warrant, they probably won’t agree with your claim! Example: What if my parents don’t think they should necessarily do what other parents are doing? How can I still get permission to attend the party? Answer: With a Toulmin argument, you choose new data based on a warrant your audience is more likely to agree with.
Try new data and a new warrant. Claim = My parents should allow me to go to my friend’s party on Friday night. Data = My friend’s parents will be home, I will call when I arrive to the party and when I leave, and I have agreed to be a designated driver. Warrant = My safety is the most important thing.
Additional elements of Toulmin Argument: • Rebuttal: recognizes restrictions that may be applied to the claim • Backing: defends the warrant or assumption • Qualifier: expresses under which conditions or to what degree the claim is true • Ex: usually, possibly, etc
Qualifier Data Claim Warrant Backing Rebuttal Toulmin Argumentation in More Detail
Example: Data Qualifier
Rogerian Model • Named after the psychologist Carl Rogers, who believed that people could only resolve an issue or solve a problem once they found the "common ground." • Emphasizes problem-solving and/or coming to consensus • Allows the author to appear open-minded or even objective • Best when you need to convince a hostile audience to at least respect your views • May rely heavily on ethos and pathos (good for emotionally charged arguments) • Six elements
Because it focuses on building bridges between writer and audience, and places considerable weight on the values, beliefs, and opinions the two share, a Rogerian argument doesn’t emphasize an "I win–you lose" outcome as much as classical or Toulmin arguments do.
Component 1: Introduction • State problem to be solved or question to be answered • Focus on how this is a problem for everyone • Explore common ground author shares with audience
Component 2: Summary of Opposing Views • Summarize opponent’s viewpoint as accurately and objectively as possible • This shows that you can listen without judgment and that you understand all sides (establishes ethos)
Component 3: Statement of Understanding • Explain which parts of the opponent’s viewpoint with which you agree • Explain conditions under which the opponent is right
Component 4: Statement of Your Position • State your position and reasons for believing this • Avoid language that is loaded, attacks the audience, or suggests your view is morally superior
Component 5: Statement of Contexts • Describe the context under which your position works • Recognize that your opponent may not agree with you all the time, but by showing the merit of your claim under specific circumstances, the audience should be able to find common ground
Component 6: Statement of Benefits • Show how your position benefits your audience • Appeal to your audience’s self-interest • Show the concessions you have made and invite your audience to make concessions as well • Close your argument on a hopeful note, where both sides win
Rogerian Arguments: example 1. Introduction: Should students wear uniforms? 2. Summary of opposing views: Some argue YES as uniforms create a sense of equality and highlight the person, not the materials they wear. Others say NO because uniforms limit self expression and individuality. 3. Statement of Understanding: I understand the point of view that uniforms, in making students look the ‘same’, may also make them feel they are all ‘the same’, unable to express their personal style and individuality. 4. Statement of Your Position: However, I think the above belief is mistaken, because – in reality – it should not be the materials we wear that define who we are, but rather our actions, our words, our talents. With this in mind, I believe uniforms are a quality addition to any school policy. 5. Statement of Contexts: If your shoes are Nike brand, that does not tell me your are a talented athlete, merely that you or your parents have the money to purchase Brand names. If you wear purple, that does not tell me you are a talented artist, merely that you have a preference for purple. 6. State of Benefits: Meanwhile, in a uniform, brand names do not exist, and economic status is no longer a barrier. In a uniform, rather than your clothes speaking for you, you speak for yourself. In a uniform, you must prove – to the world and yourself – that you are a talented athlete, or artist, or mathematician. Ironically, by making everyone look ‘the same’, uniforms allow us to TRULY become unique.
Classical Argument: example • Introduction: Dog is said to be ‘man’s best friend’, but is their function in our human society even more integral than this quote portrays? 2. Statement of background: Dogs are loyal, loving, perpetually optimistic, athletic, and obedient. 3. Proposition (Thesis): Dogs have been essential to human society since the dawn of our civilization, evolving from hunting companions and personal protection to the modern utility of seeing eye dogs and police canine units. Dogs are essential to our society because they aid humans physically, emotionally, and socially.
Classical Argument: example cont. 4. Proof: Physically, dogs are integral helpers and motivators, from sheep herders to taking your dog on walks. Emotionally, dogs are loyal and loving, always there to greet you at the door, their love unconditional (even when undeserved). Socially, dogs not only invite interactions with other humans, but can also aid people who have socially debilitating handicaps. 5. Refutation: The ‘cat people’ would say that cat’s too can be loving and loyal, but no cat could drag a grown man from a burning building to save his life. The ‘cat people’ would say that no human beings die from cat attacks, while dog attacks create injuries or even take lives every year. While this is a factual statement, it oversimplifies the issue. Dogs do not attack humans unprovoked – a dog who attacks has been abused, mistreated, or is responding to a threat, or assumes they are protecting their loved ones. Do cats only attack when provoked? Absolutely not. 6. Conclusion: Ultimately, Dogs are not only ‘mans best friend’ but also an essential and valuable cog in the machinery of human society. They help us to better function, help us to better feed not only our stomachs, but also our hearts and souls.