- To provide adequate grounds for; justify. American Heritage Dictionary.
- to warrant expresses the quality of the support as evidence of the claim. Thus, a claim is
warranted by the support provided.
- Campbell and Huxman use"reason" or "justification" for the same thing.
- For origin in argument see Toulmin model below.
- For Aristotle: "the rhetorical syllogism"; Scholars have argued since Aristotle
said this in the 4th Century BCE about what Aristotle meant. Most
common definition is that it is a form of argument in which a premise is missing
because the speaker believes his/her audience can supply it themselves.
- For Campbell and Huxman: "an argument jointly created by the author and
- Enthymemes draw support from the audience's experiences. A good enthymeme
gets its strength as an argument from the juxtaposition of its well-warranted
support and that the support is something that the audience has experienced.
- Enthymemes depend on the strength of audience belief in the truth of the
support or the warranting power of the reasons given.
Three Verbs of Argument
The system of analyzing arguments that we have studied revolves around three verbs:
- to claim: to assert for an audience's agreement
- to support: to offer information or explanation to gain that agreement
- to warrant: to offer the information or explanation that will gain that agreement. Notice that
the first two verbs talk about something articulated in the discourse. The third has to do with
the quality of the relationship between them.
One often sees these three verbs expressed as nouns designating the verbal material that performs
the verb. Thus,
- Claim: the assertion offered for the audience's assent; sometimes designated conclusion
- Support: Additional information offered to obtain the audience's assent to the claim;
sometimes designated evidence or data.
- Warrant: the assertion that the support is sufficient to obtain assent to the claim; usually
implicit rather than stated.
The Toulmin Model
- Formulated by Stephen Toulmin in The Uses of Argument
- Has come to dominate the teaching of argument in Communication
- Toulmin explains the relationships using a dialogue:
- A: "It seems to me that [claim]"
- B: "Why do you say that?" [a search for support or data]
- A: [Gives the information on which she believes the claim]
- B: "I don't see why that data proves that claim." [challenges the warrant]
- The Toulmin terms may have different names:
- Claim may also be labeled "conclusion"
- Data may be labeled "support" [our term for it and Campbell and Huxman's] or "evidence"
- Warrant is called "reasons" or "justification" by Campbell and Huxman
- Remember that both claim and data are explicit in the discourse. Warrant on the other hand is
seldom explicit unless challenged and is the basis by which the data is chosen to prove the
Analyzing Warrants with the Toulmin Model
- Isolate the claim: Determine what it is that the speaker
has asserted for you to believe. What is her argument?
- Isolate the support: Determine the information that the
speaker has offered to support the claim. The key is fully appreciating the
support/claim relationship: information given to support a claim.
- Test the warranting power of the support:
Compare the warrant to other possibilities: Ask: What support
would warrant agreement to that claim for that audience? for you?
- Logical Analysis: Ask: Does this support warrant this claim for
- Audience Analysis: Ask: Does this support warrant this claim for
Some Forms of Argument
In the same way that we can develop stock lists of issues, we can also talk about standard ways of warranting claims. There are several types. You should learn to recognize these types. Later we will use this identification to test the evidence provided to support the arguments. Among the more important are:
- Example: Use of an illustration to support a claim. Supporting an argument that a medical problem can devastate a family by providing a example of a family thus affected.
- Analogy: Comparison to a similar situation. Bill Clinton compares our time with the end of the last century when we had to adjust to the industrial world. He argues that we need to be forward looking now like the nation was at the end of the last semester.
- Sign: Pointing to something usually associated with the truth of the claim. We can support a claim that graduates of the next century will need to have computer skills by pointing to all the computers in today's workplaces.
- Statistics: Use of carefully controlled data. We often find polls supporting claims about what it is that people are most concerned with in their lives.
- Authority: Use of expert testimony. The statements of experts warrant claims as we have faith in their expertise.