Jan 22, 2018 in Analysis

Toulmin Argument is the argument structure that was proposed by Stephen Toulmin and founded on syllogistic reasoning (Freeman 69). This reasoning structure also contains other extra components that help in grounding and backing his primary claim, insuring validity in reasoning. The arguments provided by Toulminian work to support a larger structure of argument or they can also work on their own as the argument’s structure (Freeman 79). However, these argument structures are reliant on other parts such as claims, grounds, warrants, and backing in order to work together in forming a solid argument. The warrants part can be described as the connection between an argument’s grounds and the claim. The warrants permit the grounds to be used in an argument. For this reason, claims that are supported by grounds are considered to be warranted.  

Fundamentally, the structure of a Toulminian argument works in a specific manner. For instance; first, an assertor or claimant makes a claim that has to be supported by bases such as data and other facts.  These bases that support a claim are connected by a warrant such as law, relevant values and procedures. The bases of the claim also have to be backed by experience in order to provide confidence for the warrant and assure that the claim and the grounds work together with not fallacy or concern. In an argument, a claim is the argument’s destination or an assertion; while the grounds make the foundation of the argument.

For warrants to make the argument a valid one, they have to rely on authorized arguments from other varied fields and other information sources. Hence, a warrant may constitute of information like statues, licenses, laws of nature, procedures, and even scientific formulas. Warrants take various forms in different contexts. For instance, in the case of legal proceedings, a warrant may be in form of a simple law such as a statue; or an ethical or moral code. On the other hand, the field of science, the warrant may take the form of laws of nature; while in the medicine field, the warrant may represent the effects or diagnosed symptoms.

Fallacies of Argument

By definition, a fallacy is an argument that may seem logical, but is not. Differently said, a fallacy is an argument or statement that is blemished by its very structure. In both informal logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is typically an incorrect argumentation in reasoning, which results in a misunderstanding or delusion. Typically, a fallacious argument is structured in a rhetorical pattern that beclouds the sound argument. This nature makes a fallacy harder to make out. Fallacies of argument do not provide the open, two-way exchange of thoughts upon which important conversations rely (Freeley and Steinberg 190).  In lieu, fallacies of argument sidetrack the reader or listener with a wide range of appeals, rather than using comprehensive reasoning. However, fallacies are not downright—depending on the setting, some fallacious statements can be appropriate.

Fallacies of argument can be presented in three categories as differentiated herein:

Emotional Fallacies

This category of fallacies deceitfully appeals to the emotions of an audience by use of exuberant or inappropriate emotionalism. Emotional fallacies can be in form of sentimental appeals, which manipulate emotion to sidetrack a reader or listener from the facts. One example of sentimental appeal is: “The thousands of baby seals killed in the Exxon Valdez oil spill have shown us that oil is not a reliable energy source.” Another common emotional fallacy is Red Herrings. Red Herrings use ambiguous or unconnected evidence to back a conclusion. In relation, one can say that “this painting is worthless because I don’t recognize the writer.”

Emotional fallacies also use scare tactics, which attempt to frighten individuals into marrying up with the person making an argument by intimidating them or forecasting quixotically dire aftermaths. Slippery slope arguments also fall under emotional fallacies, and they propose that one thing will automatically lead to another, in most cases with disastrous results. For instance, a student may be told, “If you get a C in high school, you may not get into the university of your choice, and thence you will never have a good career.”

Ethical Fallacies

Ethical Fallacies are unwarranted attacks on an antagonist’s trustworthiness. It ultimately hurts one’s own credibility. Unlike emotional fallacies, ethical fallacies can be said to be abusing character arguments. Ethical fallacies involve dogmatism, which implies that a specific perspective is the only one standard within a specific community. False authority is an ethical fallacy that coerces readers to agree with the statement of a writer just because of his or her standing or the authority of another individual or institution that may not be amply qualified to propose that assertion. For instance, one may hear a minister say, “The CNN said it, so it must be true.” Another common form of ethical fallacy is Guilt by Association, which calls a particular person’s character by analyzing the character of that individual’s affiliates. For instance, one can ma a fallacious statement that since “Mercy’s friend, Melina robbed a bank, Mercy is a criminal.

Logical Fallacies

Fallacies of logic are based on faulty logic. Different from emotional and ethical fallacies, logical fallacies involve claims that are invalid, deficient or fragmented. One of the most common components of logical fallacies is hasty generalization, which involves a conclusion made from inadequate prove. For instance one may hear a friend make this logical fallacy: “I would not cook in his kitchen; the only time I cooked there, I burned my palm twice.”

In conclusion, these three rhetorical fallacies overlap regularly—they all share an attribute of illogicality, and are often injurious.


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