What is a Warrant in Writing?

Written by Haley Boyce

what is a warrant in writing

Before we do a swan dive into warrants, we will need to wade the waters of its origin. Warrants are just one part of a bigger product known as the rhetorical analysis essay.  

Rhetoric is the term used to describe ideas about different texts. When you read a story (or article, essay, journal, etc.) and share your thoughts about it, those thoughts are now called rhetoric. When you read a text and have thoughts about them, those thoughts are called rhetoric. It’s one of those words that sounds fancy and feels a little intimidating when, truly, it’s got a relatively simple definition.  

Warrants are similar in that they, too, sound super complicated but have a somewhat simple meaning. The difference, however, is that warrants are best defined with a lengthier explanation and examples. So, let’s get down to it.

What is the Definition of a Warrant in Writing?

In persuasive writing you will make a claim at the beginning of your essay. Then the rest of your essay will be spent proving why your claim is correct and why your reader should agree with you. 

The warrant is the connection the reader can make between the claim and evidence.

When a writer makes a claim and provides evidence, they will explain why the evidence supports the claim or they will imply the connection but leave the clarity as an assumption for the reader to make.

What are the Different Types of Warrants in Writing?

There are two types of warrants in writing. The 

Explicit Warrant:

An explicit warrant is used when a writer feels that the argument will need stronger support for the reader to agree with, or even understand. Explicit warrants are identifiable when the writer clearly explains why the evidence they are providing supports the claim. 

Implicit Warrant:

An implicit warrant is used when an argument is strong enough without blatantly stating why the connection between the claim and the evidence. For example:

Stephen Toulmin Warrants Some Attention

man in suitStephen Toulmin set his career on what he called his, “practical moral reasoning.” A philosopher who was trained as a natural scientist and has degrees in both mathematics and physics, Toulmin published numerous writings throughout his career, but his most known is the very thing that brings us together today: his piece called “The Uses of Argument”, published in 1958. 

In “The Uses of Argument”, he posited that formal logic was too abstract and an inadequate representation of how we actually argue. Roy Pea, a professor of learning sciences and education and director of the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning at Stanford University said that Toulmin “ “argued that if we want to understand questions of ethics, science and logic, we have to inquire into the everyday situations in which they arise.”

Determined to set a new standard for how we argue, especially in academic papers, Toulmin developed what we now know in academia as the Toulmin Model. The model is a tool in the analysis of arguments, allowing one to weigh the strengths and weaknesses in arguments. This is the model used when we write warrants. 

Responses to this question vary by philosopher and professor alike, but there are several agreed upon factors to consider while writing a warrant. Whether your warrant is explicit or implicit, take the following into consideration as you write.

A good warrant should:

More to consider while writing your warrant:

Presenting Counterarguments Can Be the Most Powerful Way to Support Your Own Point

yelling manA counterargument is a necessary part to writing persuasively. Have you ever found yourself in a debate in which you and the other person are so adamant about your beliefs that you refuse to budge even an inch to acknowledge their perspective? The world today is full of this fury. It’s frustrating. Annoying, even. An argument is much more likely to be won when the opposing opinion is referenced in a logical, unemotional way. This is what we call a counterargument. 

In persuasive writing, the counterargument must be acknowledged in some way. Doing so gives credibility to your argument because it shows that you are writing from a sound mind that is not ignorant to opposing viewpoints. It says to the reader, “I believe this to be true because I have looked at all possibilities and see how my belief is the correct one.” 

A simple structure for writing a counterargument can go something like this:

  1. Identify the opposing argument.
  2. Respond to the opposing argument by discussing the reasons the argument is illogical or weak.
  3. Provide examples or evidence to show why the opposing argument is illogical or weak.
  4. Finally, re-state your own argument and why it is stronger than the counterargument.