Stephen Toulmin

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Stephen Edelston Toulmin (born March 25, 1922 in London , † December 4, 2009 in Los Angeles ) was an American philosopher of British origin and one of the most widely received argumentation theorists . His work The Uses of Argument , published in 1958 , contributed significantly to the departure from logicism in the discipline.


In the course of his academic career, Toulmin was a professor at various universities, including the University of Southern California , Northwestern University and Stanford University . The philosopher was a member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal .

In 1989, Toulmin was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . He was the 2006 Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer , the Austrian Medal for Science and Art presents.


In his doctoral thesis, Toulmin sought a practical-rational approach, according to which ethical behavior is justified by the “good reasons” that can be put forward for it, not by general principles and especially not by ethical feelings. In doing so, he turned against the ethical emotivism that dominated the Anglo-Saxon region at the time . In his later studies he came across the tradition of casuistic thinking , which is not about a principle theory of morality, but about weighing up the reasons for making decisions in individual ethical cases on the basis of precedents and general argumentative principles.

His book The Uses of Argument from 1958 is regarded as a pioneering standard work in the analysis of argumentation. In his work, the philosopher developed a six-component scheme named after him ( Toulmin scheme ), which is considered the most influential contribution in the field and turns against the universalist model that has dominated to date. The approach was continuously developed by him and received broadly from a technical point of view.

In terms of philosophy of science , Toulmin turned against the approach of Thomas S. Kuhn , whose revolutionary model he sharply criticized in Human Understanding (1972) with an evolutionary conception of conceptual changes .


  • An Examination of the Place of Reason in Ethics. 1953.
  • The Philosophy of Science: An Introduction. Hutchinson's University Library, 1953.
  • The Uses of Argument. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1958; updated edition 2003, ISBN 978-0-521-53483-3 .
    • German edition: The use of arguments. Beltz Athenaeum, Weinheim 1996, ISBN 3-89547-096-1 .
  • Metaphysical Beliefs, Three Essays. 1957 (with Ronald W. Hepburn and Alasdair MacIntyre )
  • The Riviera. 1961.
  • Foresight and Understanding: an Inquiry into the Aims of Science. 1961
    • German edition: Foresight and understanding - An attempt on the goals of science. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1968
  • The Architecture of Matter. 1962 (with June Goodfield)
  • The Fabric of the Heavens: the Development of Astronomy and Dynamics. 1963 (with June Goodfield)
  • Night Sky at Rhodes. 1963.
  • The Discovery of Time. 1965 (with June Goodfield)
  • Physical reality. 1970.
  • Human Understanding: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts. 1972, ISBN 0-691-01996-7 .
    • German edition: Critique of collective reason. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1983
  • Wittgenstein's Vienna. 1973 (with Allan Janik )
  • Knowing and Acting: An Invitation to Philosophy. 1976.
  • An Introduction to Reasoning. 1979 (with Allan Janik and Richard D. Rieke)
  • The Return to Cosmology: Postmodern Science and the Theology of Nature. 1985.
  • The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning. 1988 (with Albert R. Jonsen)
  • Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. 1990.
  • Social Impact of AIDS in the United States. 1993 (with Albert R. Jonsen)
  • Return to Reason. 2001.


  • JC Cooley: On Mr. Toulmin's Revolution in Logic. In: The Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 56 No. 7 (March. 26, 1959), pp. 297-319.
  • Charles W. Kneupper: Teaching Argument: An Introduction to the Toulmin Model. In: College Composition and Communication. Vol. 29 No. 3 (Oct., 1978), pp. 237-241.
  • Alan G. Gross : A Comment on the Uses of Toulmin. In: College English. Vol. 46 No. 3 (March, 1984), pp. 310-314.
  • David Hitchcock, Bart Verheij: The Toulmin Model Today: Introduction to the Special Issue on Contemporary Work using Stephen Edelston Toulmin's Layout of Arguments. In: Argumentation. Vol. 19 No. 3 (2005), pp. 255-258.
  • William Keith, David Beard: Toulmin's Rhetorical Logic: What's the Warrant for Warrants? In: Philosophy & Rhetoric. Vol. 41 No. 1 (2008), pp. 22-50.

Web links

supporting documents

  1. Obituary In: The Times. December 9, 2009
  2. Ronald P. Loui: A Citation-Based Reflection on Toulmin and Argument In: David Hitchcock, Bart Verheij: Arguing on the Toulmin Model: New Essays in Argument Analysis and Evaluation. Springer, Berlin et al. 2006, ISBN 978-1-4020-4938-5 , pp. 31-38.