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The Toulmin Method of Argumentation

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Locating Toulmin's thought his greatest and most representative works are "The position of reason in ethics" and "Human understanding" and the most important object of the present essay, and where he developed his theory through the strict use of reason and paying special attention to the logical processes "The uses of arguments".

It should be noted that Toulmin was not a jurist, which makes his theory curious, because despite not being a strictly legal theory is applicable to the field of law.

The basic elements of Toulmin's theory are to determine the way in which language should be used, for which it predominantly establishes two uses of language, which result from a useful distinction in the world of law, which are explained below. simple way:


It is instrumental because the speaker has a character of authority to impose it or dictate it.

Reach its purpose only by the fact that whoever pronounces it is an authority, which will not be strictly necessary to justify the purpose or objective of what it dictated, it is enough to establish it.

In the words of Toulmin it can be understood as: "He who only, by a tax element or authority, achieves the objective that has been proposed, that is, does not need to justify the reasons why a postulate is proposed or a certain behaviour is imposed."

  1. Argumentative use

It is argumentative because the end of the use of language will reach it not by who pronounces or dictates, the success or failure of the use of language will depend on the argument built to obtain it.

The objective of informing, proposing, ordering; will reach its end, not by the very fact of its pronouncement, but for those arguments that validate the premises.

Here we can see an application to the law since it is inferred that in the rule of law the use of language must always be argumentative and not instrumental, since

Another element of the Toulmin Theory, which is popular in the normative world, are the elements of argumentation, which are most useful for the lawyers who work in the litigation because we will find that it is a defined structure that can lead to success in many cases.



Pretension (Claim)

It will always be the beginning and end of any argumentative process, it must be well identified. It is what I want to achieve. What I want.

Reason (Data)

It is the set of factual situations of concrete facts where also it identified in a concrete and personalized way the actors that intervene, everything is located in time and space (it is what is identified as a minor premise). First element with which I justified my claim.


It is a general proposition where I can subsume my reason or data that leads me to the achievement of my claim (is what corresponds to the major premise). S is a general proposition there is no location or personalization in time and space of actors.


It is the validated statement or source of authority from which my guarantee is derived or obtained. Always a valid and current standard. In law, the support is the statement that has the strength to build a guarantee that leads me to the solution of the case.


It is a complete, coherent and quite a useful model for the realization and analysis of legal texts, specifically of instruments that are used in the litigation, such as those that are dislodged in the jurisdictional environment, it is to highlight its usefulness for the analysis of sentences, then you can find faults in them that are appealable because of lack of coherence in any of these elements, which easily support us to detect errors of internal justification.

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