Identifying the arguer’s point
• 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
– 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 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.”
more clue words for identifying
We conclude that…
Results indicate…
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
Proves that…
The truth of the matter
more about claims...
• There are four basic types of claims:
• fact: claims which focus on empirically verifiable
• 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
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
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.
• 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.
• 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