Stephen toulmin 001

Stephen Toulmin 25 March 1922/4 December 2009

  • Ethics

    In Toulmin's doctoral dissertation, he suggests a good reasons approach of ethics, meaning that ethical conduct is justified if there a good reason. This idea was opened the pathway into further understanding of the human condition. "This examination led to an appreciation of the complexity of the relationships between the evaluative and the descriptive aspects of moral discourse and, in particular, to a consideration of the logical connections between them." (Encyclopedia Britannica 1998).
  • Argument

    In "The Uses of Argument", Toulmin petitions that some aspects of arguments are varied depending on the subjects, and there are also nonspecific aspects that can be used generally. He gave these terms names, "field-dependent" and "field-invariant". Toulmin also endeavors to point out the flaws of absolutism, which is the belief in absolute principles. link text
  • Understanding

    Toulmin suggests, in "Human Understanding", that Thomas Kuhn's ideas in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", ignore field-invariant arguments, being a relativist error. Toulmin advocates that a middle ground between absolutism and relativism should be found. Toulmin stated, " A man demonstrates his rationality, not by a commitment to fixed ideas, stereotyped procedures, or immutable concepts, but by the manner in which... he changes those ideas, procedures, and concepts." (Toulmin 1972).
  • Morality

    In "Cosmopolis, Toulmin attempts to comprehend philosophers' "quest for certainty". Toulmin believes in a lack of morality in modern philosophy pointing to the creation of nuclear weapons. He wrote, "many observers concluded that nuclear physics, too, was irredeemably destructive and antihuman. Yet these events led... (to) abstract purity and "value free" detachment toward greater concern with the political and social effects of scientific innovation." (Toulmin 1991).
  • References

    The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Good-Reasons Theory: Additional Information.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1998, Toulmin, Stephen. Human Understanding. Princeton University Press, 1972. Toulmin, Stephen Edelston, and Pietro Adamo. Cosmopolis. Rizzoli, 1991.