Thesis as Enthymeme

ENTHYMEME:  The relationship between reason and conclusion.

The thesis I have been asking you to write is an enthymeme, because it asks you to make a clear connection between your assertion (claim) and the reasons you use to support that assertion.

The pattern can be developed in two ways.

Idea 1 (Conclusion)  because   Idea 2
Idea 1             therefore  Idea 2 (Conclusion)

You can argue from the general to the specific:
1.  Grades should be abolished, because the purpose of education is to teach people, not to rank them.
2.  War would be less likely if women outnumbered men in the Senate, because women naturally seek compromise more readily than men.

You can argue from the specific to the general:
1.  Grades do not accurately assess what students have learned because test scores reveal only a small part of the knowledge a student may have.
2.  More women need to be elected to the Senate because 95 per cent of women in state legislatures voted pro choice.

Toulmin Model of Argument

Claim:  The idea being argued.
Data: The facts we appeal to as the foundation for the claim.
Warrants:  The general, hypothetical (and often implicit) statements that serve as bridges between claim and data.
Qualifiers:  Statements that limit the strength of the argument or that propose conditions in which it applies.
Rebuttals:  Statements that indicate the circumstances in which the argument might have to be set aside.
Backing: Statements that serve to support warrants.

The terms claim, data, and warrant, are very close in meaning to the terms connected to enthymeme of conclusion, reason, and assumption.

Testing a Thesis

1.  Is it an Idea?  Does it state, in a complete sentence, an assertion?
2.  Does it answer a question that is really at issue for the audience?  What kind of a question is it?
3.  Does the thesis say exactly what I mean?  Are the terms I use precise and clear?
4.  Has it developed out of a process of reasoning?  Have I considered each side of the issue adequately?
5.  Can it be developed reasonably?