Reading for this week (February 5-9):
From Elements of Argument:
- This week's lecture is on Chapter 3--"Claims" (page 51-79)--which is given
- Skim through the chapter and learn how to write and support an effective
claim or thesis.
- You also need to learn how to write an Annotated Bibliography (page 380, Elements of
Argument), for your next written assignment. You will find the directions
on NC 11.
- Also, please keep in mind that it is time to begin serious work on your Term
Paper. The rough draft of the paper should be posted on NC 15 on March 2 for group
- Do not wait until the end of the month (February) to work on your research
project. You will not be able to do a good job if you wait that long.
From A Writer's Reference:
- For additional help with the research process and citation format etc. look into A
Writer's Reference or the NortonConnect Handbook
information on Research Papers.
Whats due this week (February 5-9:
(a) Annotated Bibliography on three resources geared towards your Term
Paper--February 7 on NC 11 and (b) Seminar 3 final draft--February 8 on NC 10 (both
Claims are equivalent to your
Writers can make at least three
different kinds of Claims in their arguments: (a) Claims of Fact, (b) Claims
of Value, and (c) Claims of Policy
They deal mainly with factual
data, which are verifiable--can be validated--and no controversy exists as far as the
evidences are concerned.
For example: If someone claims
that Spokane is a city for retired people, all he/she has to do is to prove the point with
existing statistics, number of R.V.'s and Bingo places! Another example, another
factual claim: Students study in Community Colleges because these higher educational
institutions are cheaper and carry an Open-Door policy. This claim can also be
verified by comparing the enrolment numbers in any given year between several Community
Colleges and Four-year colleges in the locality.
These claims can be verifiable
through standard reference materials like "almanacs, telephone directories,
scientific data," statistical information, testimonials, sociological profiles, media
The sources need to be highly reliable and accepted as standard measuring guides.
related to Claims of Fact
One problem with this type of
claim is that the data is constantly being modified, with the quick changes in social,
political, geographic, and cultural scenarios. The writer has to keep abreast of the
newest information/data available to prove his/her case.
Sometimes Claims of Fact are
difficult to prove because
(a) The proof may be difficult to obtain (Refer to the Bilingual Programs
example in text--page 52)
(b) There are often exception to the rule, and hence the writer has to choose certain
(c) The more complex the subject is, the more difficult it will be to prove the
claim; "the more controversial the subject, the more facts and testimony" will
be necessary (53); the readers may want testimonials from more than one or two sources;
unfortunately, more than one or two sources may not be available on the subject for so
many different reasons.
Proofs, evidences, statistics,
testimonies, etc. also need to be taken from "Reliable Authorities," experts on
the field, more than one witness, etc. for "accurate observations" and factual
(a) This is one reason why serious arguers do not depend on the Internet
sources--because anyone and everyone can express an opinion on the Internet. In a
case like this, more authoritative and accepted sources (like published materials,
relaiable media programs, news, etc., and authoritative statemrnts) are called for.
(b) Writers of Claims of Fact need to follow guidelines to find out about their
sources/authorities to evaluate their "reliability": "the rank or title of
the experts, the acceptance of their publications by other experts, their association with
reputable universities, research centers, or think tanks" (54).
Yet another problem that might
arise is when experts do not agree. If this is the case, after comparing the
various points-of-view by different authorities/experts, you need to decide which
data/information will help support you own claim and go your direction. A more
detailed discussion on this problem is on page 166-168 in your text.
Another more frustrating
situation is for you to distinguish between "facts and inferences." A
fact is easily verifiable; however, an inference is not always factual--but an
interpretation (by someone) based on available facts. An inference
normally offers "probabilities."
NOTE: There will always be a shadow of doubt or ambiguity when you use
inferences to support your Claims of Fact. (Refer to the detailed discussion on the
topic "Excessive television viewing has caused the steady decline in the reading
ability of children and teenagers" on page 55 in your text.)
Claims of Value offer the
writer's "judgment" on a controversial issue
They present "approval or
disapproval," and they "attempt to prove that some action, belief, or condition
is right or wrong, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, worthwhile or undesirable" (60).
Normally, writers present their "preferences and/or prejudices" (61) and the
choice may not be easily refuted or disputed.
For example, in an essay titled "Why Don't We Complain?" William F.
Buckley, Jr. claims that Americans do not complain in any adverse situation; he offers
three (or four) scenarios--one in a hot train compartment, one in a movies theater, one at
a restaurent, and one at a ski shop. In each of these situations, he showed the
reader--with great descriptive details--how despite the frustration or discomfort, he and
others like him did not complain. It is definitely a value judgment and
readers--based on their own experiences--may agree or disagree with Buckley. They
may argue that Americans do complain a lot--or else why are there so many law suits etc.
So far, in the two seminar papers, you have been using this method--claiming your
approval or disapproval of the two issues: whether abolishing grades is a good or a bad
idea; whether censoring Internet sites (children being exposed to these sites) is
worthwhile or undesirable (considereing our First Amendment rights).
Despite the fact that Claims of
Value cannot always be disputed, they are often challenging and not completely favored
because after all they offer an arguer's personal preferences.
Readers are not always
sympathetic towards Claims of Value because there are often some standard beliefs that may
restrict the readers from accepting anything and everything: these standards include their
ethical and moral values, or their social, political, religious, and cultural attributes,
and even aesthetic values. This is one reason why people have difficulties in
agreeing about or even coming to terms with abortion issues, gun-control issues,
censorship issues, euthenesia, capital punishment, family relationships,
disciplinary methods, declining moral values and other current concerns or problems
As a writer, you can only
guess--and not be completely assured--as to what system of values your audience may abide
by. Fortunately, there ARE certain standards that human beings are comfortable with,
and as long as you have maintained those standrds, you Claims of Value will have some
Remember, you cannot persuade or
convince all the people all of the times, so expect some resistence!
Clearly define in your argument
the values you are "defending" and establish the fact that these values are
important for a common good (As for example your views on whether we should or shouldn't
censor the Internet for our children's sake: some of you approved censorship in this
situation, and some of you didn't, but you both had to show [prove] logically why you came
to thae conclusion. )
Emphasize the reasons why your
claims of value are significant for the overall benefit of society
The terms of the value system
are often "abstract"; thereore, you need to provide your reader with ample
evidences/examples, drawing them from real-life situations so your readers can see them,
relate to them, and hopefully accept them as valid evidences. (Once again, this is
what I have been trying to tell you through my comments: Specific illustrations are always
needed as evidence to strengthen your arguments.)
Use expert opinions to support
your claims of value, saying that there are others who share your opinion. (That is
why, you need to quote the authors from the text which works as a good reference source.)
Note: "Kids in the Mall"
is a well-analyzed sample paper on the Claims of Value. Note how the reasons are
qualified by the writer and supported by authoritative data and testimonials.
Claims of Policy:
Claims of Policy "advocate
adoption of policies or courses of action because problems have arisen that call for
solution" (73). These claims persist on how certains social conditions should
be. (Example: Paul Goodman's claim that "Grading should be abolished"; or
when someone claims that "Voluntary prayer should be permitted in public
schools" .) In each of these claims, the writer wants to convince the
audience that the issue under consideration poses a problem, and something needs to be
done to solve this problem.
For such a claim, you may
simultaneously use Claims of Fact (to show existing statistics or data, emphasizing the
current faulty or unsatisfactory conditions) and/or Calims of Value (to show that the
values we believe in are being jeopardized, and something needs to be done).
Based on your findings, you
should always offer an alternative or a solution so the situation (plagued by the problem)
could be stabilized or improved.
Again, you need to guess your
readers' reaction to your demand or appeal for a change of policy. They will be
skeptical and not very sympathetic to any changes in the existing social order. Some
may have their own agenda. These are the readers you are trying to convince when you
are proposing a change. You have to be very carefull with the words you choose or
the solution you suggest--without offending traditional views, coercing your readers, or
being insincere with your supporting evidences.
Claim of Policy:
Your claim and proposal should
be clearly presented--defining all complex terms, clarifying any anbiguities etc.
Emphasize the fact that a change
IS needed, for the common good of all
Always "consider the
opposing arguments" (73) and guess the kinds of questions your audience may ask.
Answer those possible questions in the body of your essay
Your main emphasis will lie in
supporting (proving) you point and assert that the change of policy you are suggesting
will benefit all
The supporting evidence should,
without doubt, be strong: reliable data, authoritative and expert opinions (researched),
and a plausible (logical) solution. Keep in mind your audeince's expectations of
NOTE: For a detailed analysis,
skim through the essay "Happiness Is a Warm Planet" (77).
This is a highlight of the Chapter
3--"Calims." Understanding the constraints and the cautionary measure will
help you not only with the next two Seminar papers but specifically the Term Paper.
You have to be very careful in presenting your thesis and your supporting
evidences--with as much specific evidences as you can--because you will be dealing with
highly-controversial issues, making value judgments, suggesting policy changes, and
offering solutions if the issue is a problem. Therefore, this chapter will be very
useful to review agian before you begin writing your Term Paper.