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Rhetoric Crash Course: Warrants

    Source: The Elements of Argument, Annette Rottenberg
  • The Three Elements of Argument
    • Claim: The main idea, or thesis, of your argument.
    • Support: The information that backs up your claim.
    • Warrant: The “big idea” that connects your support to your claim.
  • An Example: Cutting in Line at the Movies
    • Claim: “What?”
    • Support: “Why?”
    • Warrant: “So what?”
  • What is a Warrant?
    • A warrant is the assumption, common belief, or general principle that connects the claim to its support.
    • In an essay, your warrant may not be stated at all, but you must know what it is in order to construct a solid argument.
    • The warrant is the “So what?” part of your argument.
  • Types of Warrants
    • Authoritative warrants are based on the credibility of sources.
      • Example: An expert on organ transplantation is a reliable source of information about kidney transplants.
    • Substantive warrants are based on beliefs about the reliability of factual evidence.
      • Example: A survey of 1,000 people represents the opinions of a community of 3,000.
    • Motivational warrants are based on the values of the arguer and the audience.
      • Example: First come, first served.
  • Evaluation of Warrants
    • To evaluate authoritative warrants, ask:
      • Is the authority sufficiently respected and reputable?
      • Do other equally reputable authorities agree?
      • Are there equally reputable authorities who disagree?
    • To evaluate substantive warrants, ask:
      • Are the examples given sufficient and representative enough to make a general statement?
      • If the warrant supports a cause-and-effect argument, does the cause seem to account entirely for the effect?
      • If the argument uses comparisons, are the similarities greater than the differences?
      • If the argument uses analogies, does the analogy explain or merely describe?
    • To evaluate motivational warrants, ask:
      • Are the values ones that the audience will regard as important?
      • Are the values relevant to the claim?

Rhetoric Crash Course: Warrants

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:11
  • The Three Elements of Argument 0:38
    • Claim
    • Support
    • Warrant
  • An Example 1:17
  • What is a Warrant? 1:53
    • Definition
    • May Not Be Stated At All in Your Essay
  • Types of Warrants 3:14
    • Authoritative Warrants
    • Substantive Warrants
    • Motivational Warrants
  • Evaluation of Warrants 5:32
    • Ask These Questions to Evaluate Authoritative Warrants
    • Ask These Questions to Evaluate Substantive Warrants
    • Ask These Questions to Evaluate Motivational Warrants