Sources of Claims (Last revised 31 August 2005)
Sources of Claims
- We have agreed that there are at least four kinds of claims,
and that we will be primarily interested in the first two kinds:
- Empirical claims
- Logical and mathematical claims
- Methodological and metaphysical claims
- Ethical and aesthetic claims
- Our next concern is to begin to reflect on how we are to
evaluate claims to determine when they merit our belief.
Our evaluative criteria will in part depend upon the
source of the claim.
- There are at least four kinds of sources of claims; that
is, ways that we may be offered (or may ourselves produce)
claims that we are invited to believe.
- Observations and Generalizations from Observations
- Conclusions of Arguments
- Consequences of Theories
- Observations and Generalizations from Observations.
We develop claims from observations. These may be particular
claims, or general claims. There are several ways in which such
claims can go wrong, but generally these are the most reliable
- Conclusions of Arguments. Deductive arguments are
lists of claims, one of which is a claim that
is meant to be proved by the assumption of the other claims.
Deductive arguments can be rigorously analyzed.
- Consequences of Theories. Many claims are consequences
of theories that we already believe. The theory of gravitation
tell us that masses are attracted to any planet orbit the star
Tau Ceti, even if we have never observed this planet attracting
a mass or heard report of it. Such claims are as good as
the logic used to deduce them and the theory they are deduced from.
- Reports. Reports are the most common source of claims:
we hear a claim from someone else. These require us to evaluate the
source of the claim for reliability.