University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE

Teaching Argument

Toulmin's model

Stephen Toulmin’s model, published in 1958, has become popular in supporting students’ argumentation skills.

Diagram showing Toulmin's Argumentation Model

Arguments consist of:

  • Claims – assertions or conclusions about an event or theory
  • Facts – data that is used as evidence to support the assertion
  • Warrants – the statement that explains the link between the data and the claims
  • Backing – underlying assumptions which are often not made explicit
  • Rebuttals – statements that contradict the data, warrant or backing of an argument


To create an argument students need to:

  1. State their claim.
  2. Support it with facts (data) arranged singly
  3. For each fact, give the evidence for the fact (warrant),
  4. For each warrant, state the quality of its validity (backing)
  5. For each warrant and its backing, think of an opposing point of view (rebuttal)
  6. Consider further possible warrants and backing for the rebuttals
  7. Review, having argued the rebuttals, do they need to qualify their original claim?


Another Example:

More complex arguments include qualifiers specifying conditions under which the claim holds true.

 The IDEAS Project


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A CLAIM - it is morally right to use animals for testing new medicines

DATA to support the claim - the law (Scientific Procedures Act) protects all lab animals from cruelty or mistreatment

A WARRANT to connects the data to the claim - the Scientific Procedures Act is strictly enforced

BACKING - the framework of Home Office Inspections of testing labs

QUALIFIER - animal testing is morally acceptable when there is no other scientifically comparable alternative.

REBUTTAL - no, animal life is morally on a par with human life.