Lecture Six: Assessing Claims
October 19, 2011
What is a Claim?
Stipulative definition - a claim is a statement which expresses a complete thought.
Kinds of Claims
Empirical - A claim about something that can be tested, can be an observation. To
assess these claims one can use their senses to determine whether it is true, or one
could perform an experiment to determine whether it is true or not.
Conceptual - A definition of a word or concept that you come up with yourself (a claim
as to the meaning of a word). To assess this claim ask yourself the following questions:
does this claim make sense? Is this the way most people would define this word?
Normative - claims about values or standards (usually moral things, what you should
do, an evaluation of something). To assess these claims, one must consider what would
happen should you do the opposite of what the claim is saying.
Criteria for Evaluating Empirical Claims
Personal sensory experience: seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing or
experiencing something firsthand.
- Sometimes this is not possible (for example: it is 46 degrees in India right now. It might
not be possible for us to go and test this at the moment. We must rely on someone
else’s personal sensory experience)
Theoretical knowledge of empirical science
- The use of accepted scientific knowledge that has already been done by others in
order to evaluate a claim
Factual testimony of experts
- In some cases, our own knowledge or the general knowledge of others may not give
us answers to a problem. Science may also not offer us the answers we need
- In those cases, an expert can be consulted on the specific case to determine whether
or not the claim is true or false.
Normative Claims There are two types of normative claims: preferential and criterial
Evaluating preferential normative claims
- The sincerity of the person
- Consistency of the person making the claim
Criterial normative claims are claims based on sets of criteria.
To evaluate these types of normative claims, you must
- Identify criteria of evaluation these claims emplo