According to the popular method of dissecting an argument written by 20th century British philosopher Stephen Toulmin, there are five main parts to a valid argument. By dissecting the parts of an argument, it allows one to understand, summarize and intelligently discuss the effectiveness of an argument. The Toulmin method states if an argument will hold up under scrutiny, each part must be strong enough to support the preceding part of the argument.

The Claim

The claim is the beginning of an argument and consists of the most general statement. The claim part of an argument also contains qualifiers and/or exceptions. A qualifier is a word such as some, most, may, usually, and other words that add quality to a word. An exception is an omitted situation of a claim that denotes a restriction of the claim. For example, a claim might assume most books are fun to read, but exclude one specific author who is not.

The Reasons

The reasons are simply the backing a writer makes the claim. Once a reason is given, a reader must evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of the reasons. Reasons such as proven evidence would give more effectiveness than a reason based on personal opinion. Effectiveness is based first on relevance of the reasons and then on the value it gives to the claim.

The Evidence

The evidence includes the facts, statistics, expert analysis or another proven backup to the reason. If there is no such evidence, the reason and the claim are lacking this supporting part of the argument. The evidence is analyzed based on its sufficiency, credibility and accuracy. Convincing evidence, in order to be convincing, must be sufficient, credible and accurate.

Anticipated Objects and Rebuttal

According to the Toulmin method, an argument must contain reasonable objections the reader might make. The author will include a rebuttal to these anticipated objections to the claim. These rebuttals should present reasons and evidence as the original claim does.