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Vague

- A sentence is too vague to be a claim if there are different ways to understand / we can’t settle on one of those
w/o the speaker making correct.
- Sentence is vague if it is unclear what the speaker intended
Subjective claims
- Subjective if whether it is true of false depends on what someone thinks, believes or feels. It invokes
personal standards.
Objective claims
- Objective if whether it is true or false depend on facts. It invokes impersonal standards.

Descriptive claims (事实,有根据的)


- To describe what is
e.g. Drunk drivers kill more than sober drivers do.
Selling cocaine is against the law.

Prescriptive claims 应该不应该 (个人想法)


- To describe what should be
e.g. Zake shouldn’t sell cocaine.

Ambiguity claims (所说的词语,可以有两个意思)


- Special case of vagueness; when there are just two, or a very few, obvious ways that a sentence could be
understood as a claim.
- Ambiguous sentences are not claims
e.g. I saw the waiter with the glasses. (Waiter carrying some drinking glasses or wearing spectacles?)
Definitions
- Explains or stipulates how to use a word or phrase
- Replace the entire sentence by another that is not vague or ambiguous
- Ways of making a definition:
 giving a synonym
 to describe
 explain or point
- Definitions are not claim, not premises
Persuasive definitions
- Not a definition but a claim masquerading as a definition
Steps in making a good definition
1. Show the need for a definition
2. State the definition
3. Make sure the works make sense
4. Give e.g. where the definitions apply
5. Give e.g. where the definitions not apply
6. Contrast it with other likely definition
7. Revise your definition
Plausible claims
- A claim is plausible if we have good reason to believe it is true
- Less plausible, if there is less reason we have to believe it is true
- Implausible/dubious if we have no reason to believe it
Valid argument
- A valid argument is one which the premises support the conclusion completely.
- Necessary that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true.
- refer slides
Invalid argument
- Not necessary that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true.
- Divide into strong and weak arguments (only invalid is classify into strong & weak)
- Strong: possible but unlikely that premises are true and conclusion false (at the same time)
- Weak: possible and likely that premises is true and conclusion false (at the same time)
- Every weak argument is bad
Bad argument
- Tell us nothing about whether the conclusion is true or false
Vagueness
- Lack of clarity/precision
e.g. “Anyone dressing inappropriately will be imprisoned.”
Overgenerality
- Not specific enough in a given context
e.g Teacher: Johnny, what is 7+2
Johnny: More than 2
- Whether an expression is overly general depends on the context
e.g. We will deploy the air force to deter the intruders. (‘deploy the air force’--- what specific action?)
Stipulative definition
- You created a new word or used an old word in an entirely new way
- You tell the readers and listeners what you mean by the term
Persuasive definition
- Arguer defines the term in an effort to persuade the reader to agree with the arguer’s point of view
- Usually contains emotional appeals and slanted terms
Lexical definition
- Defined in the way they are generally used in language
e.g. “The rug is a heavy fabric used to cover a floor.” (‘rug’---general usage not one person’s use of word)
Precising definition
- Arguer attempts to qualify a vague word so that its meaning is not left to the interpretation of the reader or
listener
Ostensive definition - point to the object being named
Enumerative definition - by listing, giving examples
Denotation of the word – literal meaning or semantic meaning
Connotation – images and metaphors (includes perceptual meaning)
Euphemism – “to speak with good words”
– involves substituting a more pleasant, less objectionable way of saying something for blunt or
more direct way
– mild, comforting or evasive words instead of harsh, blunt or taboo words
– often is used to hide reality or to avoid facing the truth
Prescriptive claims – The conclusion is the first sentence
Inferring and implying claims - When someone leaves a conclusion unsaid, he or she is implying it. When
you decide that an unstated claim is the conclusion, you are inferring it.
e.g. Suppose your teacher says in class, “All of my best students hand in extra written arguments for extra
credit.” She hasn’t actually said you should hand in extra work. But you infer that she has implied “If you want
to do well in this class, you’d better hand in extra-credit work.
When to accept and when to reject
Accept – The claim is known by personal experience
– The claim is made by someone you know and trust and the person is an authority on this kind of claim.
– The claim is offered by a reputable authority whom you can trust as an expert about this kind of claim
and who has no motive to mislead.
– The claim is put forward in a reputable journal or reference source
– The claim is in a media source that’s usually reliable and has no obvious motive to mislead
Reject – The claim contradicts personal experience
– The claim contradicts other claims you know to be true
– The claims contradict each other
Appeal to authority – We are justified in accepting a claim becuz of who said it
Appeal to common practice – If (almost) everyone else (in this group) does it, then it is O.K. to do.
Appeal to common belief – If (almost) everyone else (in this group) believes it, then it’s true.
Phony refutation – (Almost) anything that ‘A’ says about ……….is (probably) false
– ‘A’ has done or said ………., which shows that he or she does not believe the
conclusion of his or her own argument.
Ad hominem (Appeal to personal attack)
- Mistaking a person for a claim or argument
Deductive arguments – If the premises are true, the conclusion MUST be true
Inductive arguments – If the premises are true, then the conclusion is probably true
Slanter – A slanter is any device that attempts to convince by using words that conceal a dubious claim.
Euphemism – A word or phrase that makes something sound better than a neutral description
e.g. Funeral director, sewage engineer, captain (bus driver), home managers (maid)
Dysphemism – A word or phrase that makes something sound worse than a neutral tone
e.g. The merciless slaughter of seals for their fur continues in a number of countries.
(“merciless slaughter”- dysphemism; “harvesting” – euphemism; “killing” – neutral)
Down-player – A word or phrase that minimizes the significance of a claim
e.g. “Only”— downplaying the results contrary to the claim
Up-player – A word or phrase that exaggerates the significance of a claim
e.g. “finally managed”— up-playing the significance of the effort made
Any concealed claim is innuendo
Small summary
 Argument: A set of statements in which a claim (called the conclusion) is put forward and defended
with reasons (called the premises)
 Deductive Argument: An argument in which the conclusion is claimed or intended to follow
necessarily from the premises
 Inductive Argument: An argument in which the conclusion is claimed or intended to follow the
premises
 Valid argument: A deductive argument in which the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises
– that is, a deductive argument in which it is impossible for the premises for the premises to be true and
the conclusion false
 Invalid Argument: A deductive argument in which the conclusion does not follow necessarily from the
premises – that is, a deductive argument in which it is possible for the premises to be true and the
conclusion false
 Sound argument: A deductive argument that is both valid and has all true premises
 Unsound argument: A deductive argument that either is invalid or has at least one false premise, or
both.
 Strong argument: An inductive argument in which the conclusion follows probably from the premises
– that is, an inductive argument in which it is unlikely that its conclusion is false if its premises are true.
 Weak argument: An inductive argument in which the conclusion does not follow probably from the
premises – that is, an inductive argument in which it is not likely that if its premises are true, its
conclusion is true
 Cogent argument: An inductive argument that both is strong and has all true premises
 Uncogent argument: An inductive argument that either is weak or has at least one false premise, or
both