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In Memoriam: Stephen E. Toulmin, 87

Rhetorician and ethicist Stephen E. Toulmin has died.  While I haven’t been able to fit his full system into my freshman writing courses, I did create a brief handout on the Toulmin method. Arguing against the absolute truth advocated in Plato’s idealized formal logic, Toulmin said that truth can be relative. Historical and cultural contexts, he said, must be taken into consideration. He concluded that absolutism fails to consider the…