Healthcare and Medicine Reference
Toulmin's six classical building blocks, “organs within a living system of
argument,” as he calls them, may be completed conveniently by a problem
statement or thesis into which argumentation is set. Pros (warrants stemming
from grounds and backing speaking for conclusion) and cons (rebuttals)
represent an ensemble of adducts within which we search for a balance of
elements justifying or not our claim(s) or conclusion.
As we may see and feel from the above described argument concepts, in
practice, an argument is either built from some original idea (thesis) up to
its conclusion (claim) or is reconstructed retrospectively and evaluated for its
validity and absence of fallacies.
Reasoning this way may be either valid or invalid. Deductively valid argu-
ments are those whose conclusions follow necessarily from their premises.
Given true premises and a valid argument, the conclusion is necessarily true.
Given false premises and a valid argument, the conclusion may or may not
be true. The quality of premises is given by the argumentation that led to
them as new statements and by the quality of evidence (data or information
necessary for the understanding of and/or decision making about a health
problem), as we understand evidence and best evidence in EBM.
Argumentations based on any of the above-mentioned three models work
if and only if they are based on solid evidence underlying each premise and
if this evidence is correctly linked (inferring) to conclusions that are based
on them. Any error in evidence and its handling through our reasoning
(argumentation) is a fallacy to be prevented or corrected.
An argument makes sense only if it is exercised in view and in the frame-
work of a well-defined problem in context or thesis. A thesis is a proposition
stated and put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and
proved or to be maintained against objections . 25 Ideally it should include the
definition of the problem in focus (research or practice situation or event) itself,
objectives to tackle the problem, hypothesis(es) , a research or practice question , as
well as all necessary operational definitions: of entities and variables of interest.
In most cases, there is no meaningful discussion and argumentation without pre-
specifying the thesis and its components (problem in focus, objectives, hypoth-
eses, research questions, and definitions of variables of interest). Context, setting,
and framing (vide infra) are also indispensable for any meaningful discussion.
The problem (topic) in focus is the health problem that you try to solve in
practice or research.
From the domain of orismology as defined in Chapter 1, a word about
definitions: : Definitions are the formal statements of the meaning and signifi-
cance of entities of interest (variables, tools, conditions, settings, etc.). To be