Sunday, July 11, 2010

On Rational Warrant


Skeptics usually argue against a level of absolute proof. Some skeptics may claim that they don't demand absolute proof, but the level of most God arguments and most discussions about those arguments is undertaken with an assumption that the argument has to actually it's objective, that God exists. At least that's taken to be the objective. I understood things like way myself, yet my friends and I in our collegiate and undergraduate settings, our coffee shops and debate squad discussions Always hinted at a notion that there are levels of proof. I used to describe this in terms of "not mathematical level of proof but something more on a practical level." After doctoral work, in which I had not really thought about the issue for a long time, I discovered the intent war between atheists and theists and jumped in with both fists flying. I didn't really understand how how why but for some reason it occurred to me (almost instantly) that that second order of proof was the rational warrant belief. There was an article that I can't even find now, I don't remembered who wrote,it talked about propositions as things in which to place confidence rather than "prove" and the ability to place confidence in  a partially proved hypothesis. The basis justification for doing this is the "rational warrant." This soon became my standard position. I do not argue to prove the existence of God but to demonstrate the ratinoally warranted nature of belief.

The levels of the term proof that I've discussed, in my internet sojourn, are "absolute" and 'practical." Rational warrant is any logical argument that warrants a belief, or a sense of placing confidence in a proposition. being "rational" means there are logical reasons to support it, being a "warrant" means it's a reason to believe something. Warrant is permission. so the aspect of an argument that logically demonstrates a reason to believe something is a warrant. Rationally warranted belief is confidence placed in a proposition (the belief) that is well placed as demonstrated by the warrant; the warrant is a sort of "permission" to believe or to place confidence.The practical level of proof I said is based upon the daily needs of life while the absolute sense of proof is jsut that, that which can be demonstrated to be 100% proved. There really almost no things in this life that can be proved that way. One of the big games the atheist play is to confuse the issue of belief by constantly demanding 100% absolute proof then denying that is their standard when pressed with the impossibly of the task. Pracical level of belief is confidence placed in a proposition on the basis of an ad hoc or incomplete basis. We might also it the "Thomas Reid level." That is, life is not going to stop and give us a chance to try out every single theory we can think of before we get back to make a decision about God belief. Life is moving on and we are going to die before we find out why we are here if we are waiting around for absolute proof. So the practical level is one that is ratinoally warrant, in which we can place confidence in a proposition because the proposition is justified logically even though we do not have absolute proof.

Rational warrant is nothing more than what logicians call 'warrant.' it's an established aspect of a logical argument. Attaching the Word rational to it only means that it's arrived at through reason. There's nothing magic about the term that, its not some ontological principle that has to be true no matter what, it's just a good old fashioned warrant for an argument. The only real difference in this and what people usually con true as logical argument is that the Aristotelian version of logic seems to demand necessity. That which is logically is necessitated by logic as the mandatory conclusion. Whereas rationally warranted conclusions are more or less permissive rather than mandatory. That is to say they are justified in so far as logic goes, but they are not necessarily the only logical conclusion. Atheists are always asking me "does this mean atheism could rationally warranted too." Theoretically it does, sure! It's still their burden of proof to show that it is. Atheists are always treating rational warrant as though its some sort of freak idea I made up myself that no logician would ever support. In fact all kinds of major logicians support it and it' easy to see that it's just a standard concept if one just does a modicum research one will see that logicians talk about warrant all the time.

  Stephen Toulimin (March 25, 1922-December 4, 2009) was a major logician of the 20th century who can be singled out as a major figure in the development of a permissive sort of warrant principle. He was one of the major thinkers of the twentieth century, important developing logic, ethics, moral reasoning. He was most famous for the Toulmin diagram which was a way of diagramming an argument to understand it's logic, similar to a vin diagram only more complex.

Encyclopedia Britannica online
Originally published: Philosophy and Rhetoric (Vol. 41, No. 1) 2008
"Toulmin's Rhetorical loigc: What's the Warrant for Warrant?"
by William Keith, David Beard
"The article discusses the argument of Stephen Edelston Toulmin concerning the misunderstandings of warrant as emphasized in composition and communication literature. According to the author, Toulmin believes that a good argument can be followed by providing good justification to a claim that can support to criticism and earn a positive verdict. In The Uses of Argument (1958), Toulmin proposed a layout on warrant for analyzing arguments. Toulmin stresses that warrant is the statement that authorizes the movement from the data to the claim. The author notes that Toulmin's argument has created confusion to scholars with their understanding. The author suggests to study the first book of Toulmin "Reasons in Ethics" to fully understand the argument using Toulmin's model."

Toulmin stresses that warrant is the statement that authorizes the movement from the data to the claim. That's just what I said about it. I said that before I found this article. The argument has a permissive nature but this does not mean that the ordinary burdens of logical inference are removed.

A theory of reasoning must define a principle that allows movement; in formal logic this principle is represented by the material conditional.1 Toulmin claimed, in The Uses of Argument (1958), that not all argument was reducible to logic. He offered an alternative to the material or formal conditional; he envisaged a different inference principle, which he called a warrant. He insisted that warrants, rather than being abstractions like conditionals, were bounded by institutional and disciplinary constraints, contextual boundaries he called fields. As Foss, Foss, and Trapp summarize, "the warrant assesses whether or not the trip from grounds to claim is a legitimate one" (11)--within those institutional and disciplinary constraints. In a sense, Toulmin is subtly moving ninety degrees from the classical tradition of logic. In classical logic, the term Aristotle uses to describe the character of logical inference in the syllogism, anagkhaios, is usually translated as necessary, but it might also be rendered as constrained or compulsory; in a valid syllogism the reasoner "needs to" draw the conclusion. In contrast, in a Toulmin argument, she is allowed to draw the conclusion. A warrant, normally, is permission to do something, and that permission is conditional.2 The common use of the term "warrant" in law is the prototype: a warrant to search a home is permission to search it. In many secondary texts on Toulmin's model, the warrant is called an "inference license." Despite the innovation of Toulmin's response to classical logic and the popularity of his model for argumentation theory, a problem still remains: Scholars are not in agreement on what a warrant is or how to identify it, either Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2008.

In Toulmin's concept of argument the claim is the statement you are asking to be accepted. As I put it above the "hypothesis" in which one is asked to place confidence.

According to "Changing"
"Toulmin's Argument Model"

Grounds (according to Toulmin)

The grounds (or data) is the basis of real persuasion and is made up of data and hard facts, plus the reasoning behind the claim. It is the 'truth' on which the claim is based. Grounds may also include proof of expertise and the basic premises on which the rest of the argument is built.
The actual truth of the data may be less that 100%, as all data are based on perception and hence there is some element of assumption about it.
It is critical to the argument that the grounds are not challenged because, if they are, they may become a claim, which you will need to prove with even deeper information and further argument.
For example:
Over 70% of all people over 65 years have a hearing difficulty.
Information is usually a very powerful element of persuasion, although it does affect people differently. Those who are dogmatic, logical or rational will more likely to be persuaded by factual data. Those who argue emotionally and who are highly invested in their own position will challenge it or otherwise try to ignore it. It is often a useful test to give something factual to the other person that disproves their argument, and watch how they handle it. Some will accept it without question. Some will dismiss it out of hand. Others will dig deeper, requiring more explanation. This is where the warrant comes into its own.

Warrant links the data and other grounds to the claim (Ibid). The Warrant legitimizes the Claim by showing the relevance. The Warrant can be simple or complex, it can be merely implied or explicitly stated. The warrant is further supported by "backing" additional information which adds support to the warrant. Two more terms need expliantion:


The qualifier (or modal qualifier) indicates the strength of the leap from the data to the warrant and may limit how universally the claim applies. They include words such as 'most', 'usually', 'always' or 'sometimes'. Arguments may thus range from strong assertions to generally quite floppy or largely and often rather uncertain kinds of statement.
For example:
Hearing aids help most people.
Another variant is the reservation, which may give the possibility of the claim being incorrect.
Unless there is evidence to the contrary, hearing aids do no harm to ears.
Qualifiers and reservations are much used by advertisers who are constrained not to lie. Thus they slip 'usually', 'virtually', 'unless' and so on into their claims.


Despite the careful construction of the argument, there may still be counter-arguments that can be used. These may be rebutted either through a continued dialogue, or by pre-empting the counter-argument by giving the rebuttal during the initial presentation of the argument.
For example:
There is a support desk that deals with technical problems.
Any rebuttal is an argument in itself, and thus may include a claim, warrant, backing and so on. It also, of course can have a rebuttal. Thus if you are presenting an argument, you can seek to understand both possible rebuttals and also rebuttals to the rebuttals.(Ibid)
 (see alsoToulmin, S. (1969). The Uses of Argument, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press).

The aspects will be present in most arguments and will be built in to a good argument and my be implicit but they will be part a good argument.  Thus we can see for those who accuse my view point of being made up that it is not made by me, but it is made up at all it was made up by one of the major logicians of the twentieth century. The crucial distinction between the ratinoal warrant and an ordinarily Aristotelian argument is that the conclusion is not so mandatory as permissive. This means one need to demonstrate beyond all doubt that God exits but in demonstrating the rational warrant for belief one has shown that good logical reasons allow for belief while they don't prove beyond a doubt that God must exist. This is very important in light of the realization that God is not given in science data, and being beyond human understanding cannot be demonstrated to be real, and in a Paul Tillich since is beyond existence anyway. Therefore the demonstration of a rational warrant should be valid enough to logically justify belief. That means there is no basis upon which to argue that religion is irrational or stupid.

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