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claim

The three traditional types of claims

Definition:

An arguable statement.

Generally speaking, there are three primary types of persuasive claims:

  • Claims of fact assert that something is true or not true.
  • Claims of value assert that something is good or bad, more or less desirable.
  • Claims of policy assert that one course of action is superior to another.
In rational arguments, all three types of claims must be supported by facts.

See also:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "to call"

Examples and Observations:

  • "In effect, someone who offers an argument for a position is making a claim, providing reasons to support that claim, and implying that the premises make it reasonable to accept the conclusion. Here is a general model:
    Premise 1
    Premise 2
    Premise 3 . . .
    Premise N
    Therefore,
    Conclusion
    Here the dots and the symbol N indicate that arguments may have any number of premises--one, two, three, or more. The word therefore indicates that the arguer is stating the premises to support the next claim, which is the conclusion."
    (Trudy Govier, A Practical Study of Argument. Wadsworth, 2010)


  • A claim expresses a specific position on some doubtful or controversial issue that the arguer wants the audience to accept. When confronting any message, especially a complex one, it is useful to begin by identifying the claims that are made. Claims can be obscured by complex sentence construction where claims and their support often are interwoven. Whereas a rhetorical performance (e.g., a speech, an essay) usually will have one dominant claim (e.g., the prosecuting attorney stating that 'the defendant is guilty,' the political advocate urging to 'vote no on Proposition 182'), most messages will consist of multiple supporting claims (e.g., the defendant had motive, was seen leaving the scene of the crime, and left fingerprints; Proposition 182 will hurt our economy and is unfair to people who have recently moved into the state)."
    (James Jasinski, "Argument." Sourcebook on Rhetoric. Sage, 2001)


  • "Claims worthy of arguing are those that are debatable: to say 'Ten degrees Fahrenheit is cold' is a claim, but it is probably not debatable--unless you decide that such a temperature in northern Alaska might seem balmy. To take another example, if a movie review you are reading has as its claim 'Loved this movie!' is that claim debatable? Almost certainly not, if the reviewer is basing the claim solely on personal taste. But if the reviewer goes on to offer good reasons to love the movie, along with strong evidence to support the reasons, he or she could present a debatable--and therefore arguable--claim."
    (Andrea A. Lunsford, The St. Martin's Handbook. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008)
Pronunciation: KLAME
Also Known As: arguable statement

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