CLAIMS Identifying the arguer’s point
claims • A claim is the point an arguer is trying to make. • The claim is the conclusion, proposition, or assertion an arguer wants another to accept. • The claim answers the question, "So what is your point?” • example: “You should send a Valentine to Mimi, because she sent you one last year.” • example: “I drove last time, so this time it’s your turn to drive.” • example: “Because the groundhog saw his shadow,there will be six more weeks of winter.”
clue words for identifying claims • Claims often follow words such as “therefore,” “thus,” and “hence” • example:” Ned is conservative, therefore he likes Sarah Palin.” • example: “There are newspapers in the Boswell’s driveway, thus they are probably out of town this weekend.” • example: “The car’s engine is still warm, hence it must have been driven recently.”
We conclude that… Results indicate… Consequently… So… In short… It follows that… Shows that… Indicates that… Suggests that… It should be clear that… We may deduce that… Points to… The point I’m trying to make is… The most obvious explanation is… It is highly probably that… Proves that… The truth of the matter is… more clue words for identifying claims
more about claims... • There are four basic types of claims: • fact: claims which focus on empirically verifiable phenomena • judgment/value: claims involving opinions, attitudes, and subjective evaluations of things • policy: claims advocating courses of action that should be undertaken • definition or classification: claims about categorization and classification
factual claims • Empirically verifiable—ultimately there is a correct answer somewhere • The arguers may not be able to prove the correct answer • example: “More than 300 innocent people have been executed in the United States.” • An arguer is making a factual claim even if the arguer has the facts wrong • example: “Dr. Gass is 6’4” tall. • Facts may involve the past, present, or future • example: “California’s Hispanic population will more than double over the next 10 years.”
judgment or value claims • Involve matters of taste, opinion, attitudes • example: “Torture is wrong.” • example: “Babe Ruth is the greatest slugger of all time.” • Always carry an evaluative dimension: • positive vs. negative • good versus bad • right vs. wrong • Not all opinions are equally good • example: “Norbit was the best movie of 2007.”
fact-inference confusion Betty: “Abortion is murder, plain and simple, because human life begins at the moment of conception.” Roy: “How do you know when human life begins? And what do you define as human life? Betty: “If a fetus is human, and it’s alive, then it’s a living human being. It’s just an earlier stage of human life.” Roy: “But there isn’t a fetus at the moment of conception. There is a one-celled zygote. Cell division and cell specialization haven’t occurred. There is no brain, no heart, no central nervous system. There isn’t a person.” Betty: “A zygote already has its own unique DNA. All the ingredients necessary for human life are present in a zygote.” Roy: The necessary ingredients may be present but they aren’t sufficient to guarantee human life. The zygote has to form an embryo, and the embryo has to attach itself to the uterine wall before there is a fetus. And the fetus still wouldn’t possess conscious awareness.” Betty: “Those are all stages of human life, just as childhood or adolescence are stages of human life. As for awareness, an infant lacks the cognitive development of an adult, but it is no less human.”
Fact or Inference? • Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen. • Osama Bin Laden is dead • Michael Jackson was musical genius. • Nabisco animal crackers include 17 different types of animals. • Geeks are different from nerds who, in turn, are different from dorks. • Human life begins at the moment of conception. • Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy. • A zombie cannot be killed by a stake through the heart. • cigarettes are more dangerous than marijuana. • It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. • One out of three people fails to wash their hands when leaving a restroom.
policy • advocates what should be done • example: “there oughta be a law…” • example: “You should change your motor oil every 4,000 miles.” • Requires someone to take a specific course of action • an individual • a legislature • a court • should ≠ would
should/would fallacy: confusing the type of claims • Mona : “I think marijuana should be decriminalized in all 50 states.” • Zach: “That will never happen.” • Mona : “I didn’t say it would happen, I said it should happen. A rational society should not ban what is essentially a victimless crime.
definition • advocates a specific definition or interpretation of a concept • example: “Pluto is not a planet.” • example: “Tiger Woods is African-American.” • often necessary to define key concepts prior to arguing claims of fact, value, or policy • example: “Rich people should pay higher taxes.” What constitutes “rich”? • often centers on what category or classification is most appropriate