, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 331–346

Systematizing Toulmin’s Warrants: An Epistemic Approach

  • James B. Freeman

DOI: 10.1007/s10503-005-4420-0

Cite this article as:
Freeman, J.B. Argumentation (2005) 19: 331. doi:10.1007/s10503-005-4420-0


Relevance of premises to conclusion can be explicated through Toulmin’s notion of warrant, understood as an inference rule, albeit not necessarily formal. A normative notion of relevance requires the warrant to be reliable. To determine reliability, we propose a fourfold classification of warrants into a priori, empirical, institutional, and evaluative, with further subdivisions possible. This classification has its ancestry in classical rhetoric and recent epistemology. Distinctive to each type of warrant is the mode by which such connections are intuitively discovered and the grounds on which we ultimately justify them. The classification of warrants is thus epistemic. We illustrate the difference by contrasting empirical physical with institutional intuition, and argue for the advantages of this approach over Toulmin’s conception of field dependence.


backing intuition presumptive reliability relevance reliability warrant 

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • James B. Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyHunter College of The City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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