ARTS 1110 Lecture 6: Evidence Rival Causes and Statistics

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University of Manitoba
Arts Interdisciplinary
ARTS 1110
James K.Honeyford

How good is the evidence?: The Need for Evidence:  What is a factual claim? - A factual claim is one in which the arguer suggests that there is evidence to support the conclusion  Without evidence, the claim is simply an assertion Sources of Evidence: 1. Intuition 2. Personal Experience 3. Testimonials 4. Appeals to Authority 5. Personal Observations 6. Case Examples 7. Analogies 8. Research Studies 1. Intuition:  Intuitive knowledge is thought to come from within (divine - coming from the heavens) or innate (programmed into humans)   More current science suggests that intuitive knowledge can be better understand as deriving from the  capacity to make good decisions on the basis of limited information  It is believable, in some situations reliable, but can not be applied generally  2. Personal Experience as Evidence:  The ability to learn from previous experience allows individuals to solve problems in unfamiliar environments using knowledge acquired in previous situations    The use of personal experience for evidence, however, carries some risks: - Individual experience is idiomatic and situational - It may not apply to the experiences of others or to new situations that are not analogous to the first situation - Individual experience is interpreted through the cultural biases into which one is immersed  It is believable, in some situations reliable, but can not be applied generally 3. Personal Testimonials as Evidence:  Personal Testimonials derive from another individual’s personal experience  Have all the liabilities of personal experience without having the authority that comes from lived experience  It is believable, not reliable and can not be applied generally oSDP 4. Appeals to Authority as Evidence:  Can be useful when certain conditions are met:  - The authoritative individual is, in fact, authoritative in the field - The authoritative individual is current  It is sometimes believable, reliable when authoritative evidence when in the field and current, and can  be applied generally when the authority’s expertise is relevant to the new situation 5. Personal Observation as Evidence:   What is the advantage of “personal observation”?  The advantage of personal observation is that it derives from that which we experience directly    Personal observation provides experiential evidence  Reliability increases with the number of objective observers    What are its weaknesses?  The disadvantage of personal observation is that each of us experiences the world differently   Our observations are guided by our perspectives, both physical and cognitive, by our biases, and by our motivations   It is believable, usually reliable and generalizable to some degree 6. Case Studies:  Case studies are arguments that use particular examples as evidence of a pattern    Case studies appeal to the reader for a number of reasons: - They appear authoritative because they rely on experiential evidence - They have an emotional appeal  Limitations of case studies: - It is dangerous to generalize from case studies - Case studies describe phenomena or circumstances that may not be representative - Case studies, and other anecdotal evidence, often lead one to the fallacy of hasty generalization  It is believable, only reliable as records of individual experience, and can not be applied generally 7. Analogies as Evidence:   One assumes that if two things are alike in one respect, they will be alike in other respects as well  Similarity can be deceiving  Evaluating analogies: - How similar are the two things? - Are they similar in ways that are relevant to the argument? - In what ways are they different? - Are the differences significant?  Faulty Analog: one in which the comparison of two things ignores important and relevant differences   It is believable, fairly reliable and sometimes applied generally 8. Research Studies as Evidence:  Some advantages of research studies  Research studies are undertaken systematically   They employ the scientific method (ex: they use controls, they isolate variables, etc)   They rely on publicly verifiable data   They express their conditions and findings in precise language   Research studies cannot be accepted without questions   Biased surveys and questionnaires: - The validity of surveys and questionnaires can compromised in a number of ways - People sometimes respond to questionnaires by giving the answer they think they ought to give - Survey questions, by design or by accident, may be ambiguous - The context of a question often predisposes respondents to a particular answer - Before accepting the evidence supplied by surveys and questionnaires, one should examine the methodology of the study. Is it a valid study?  Strategies for evaluating research studies:  - The validity of research reports can be determined by asking critical questions  Less believable than other evidence, reliable, and usually applied generally  Generalizing from
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