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Toulmin Stephen E. The Uses of Argument: Updated Edition

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Toulmin Stephen E. The Uses of Argument: Updated Edition
Cambridge University Press, 2003. — 259 p.
‘A central theme throughout the impressive series of philosophical books and articles Stephen Toulmin has published since 1948 is the way in which assertions and opinions concerning all sorts of topics, brought up in everyday life or in academic research, can be rationally justified. Is there one universal system of norms, by which all sorts of arguments in all sorts of fields must be judged, or must each sort of argument be judged according to its own norms?
‘In The Uses of Argument (1958) Toulmin sets out his views on these questions for the first time. Reacting severely against the “narrow” approach to ordinary arguments taken in syllogistic and modern logic, he advocates—analogous with existing practice in the field of law—a procedural rather than formal notion of validity. According to Toulmin, certain constant (“field-invariant”) elements can be discerned in the way in which argumentation develops, while in every case there will also be some variable (“field-dependent”) elements in the way in which it is to be judged. Toulmin’s “broader” approach aims at creating a more epistemological and empirical logic that takes both types of elements into account.
‘In spite of initial criticisms from logicians and fellow philosophers, The Uses of Argument has been an enduring source of inspiration and discussion to students of argumentation from all kinds of disciplinary backgrounds for more than forty years. Not only Toulmin’s views on the field-dependency of validity criteria but also his model of the “layout arguments”, with its description of the functional moves in the argumentation process, have made this book a modern classic in the study of argumentation.’
Frans van Eemeren, University of Amsterdam
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