Banning Cellphone in Public Places – Toulmin Proposal

  • Claim: Banning cellphone in public places including restaurants and theaters advances the overall public interests because social benefits to the public outweigh the private costs to the cellphone owners.
  • Support: In a survey, 57 percent Americans supported banning cell phones from restaurants, theaters, and other public places (Godoy). Cellphone use can also interfere with the functioning of certain equipments at hospitals and airports (Cook) so banning it will advance public’s overall interests.
  • Warrant: Most instances of cellphone use at public places serve little purpose except helping the user pass time. A minor proportion is for emergency purposes.
  • Backing: In Maine’s Baxter Park, cell phones are only allowed for emergency use (Godoy, Silencing Cell Phones in Public Places). This proposal will allow emergency use, thus, it will not limit the productive use of cellphone in public places.
  • Rebuttal: Banning cellphone use in public places will be a violation of constitutional right to freedom of action without undue government intrusion.
  • Rebut of Rebuttal: Most rights guaranteed by constitution are not absolute in nature. One has a right to consume alcohol almost everywhere in the U.S. if he/she is at least 21 but this doesn’t mean the right to consume alcohol doesn’t have limitations. Like many states, one cannot consume alcoholic beverages in many public places and state parks in the state of Texas (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission). It is also known that one cannot drive while under the influence of alcohol almost everywhere in the U.S. Similarly, many states have laws against cellphone use or even texting while driving. All these examples demonstrate that the government has the right to limit a particular right guaranteed by the constitution if doing so will advance the overall interests of the society.


Godoy, Maria. Silencing Cell Phones in Public Places. 16 April 2013 <>.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Public Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages. 16 April 2013 <>.