Claims are the "wanted ends" of arguments.

Claims are also the beginnings of arguments.

When one makes a claim, one has to be prepared to support the claim with evidence and reasoning as there are few "self-evident" and "universally accepted" claims ("She/he who asserts a claim, must provide evidence").

There are not very many universally accepted, taken for granted claims that do not require some amount of evidence.

Every/any claim that is made requires (at least some) evidence in the face of challenge by the audience ("oh yeah?")

Claims sometimes stand alone and at other times are part of a series (of claims and subclaims).

In effect, the "thesis" of a work or part of a work is a kind of claim (we might say that the overall thesis is the "main claim").

There are three major kinds of claims: Claims of fact, claims of value, and claims of policy.

Claims of fact make statements about, for example:
states of being/not being ("there is a full moon out tonight)
aspects/attributes of things ("that barn is red/large/old/empty")
the state of affairs ("the roadway is busy today).

Generally speaking, we think of claims of fact as either being true or false.

Claims of value are decided based on establishing the merits of preferable modes of behavior (instrumental values) or ultimate goals (terminal values) [see items in the Rokeach values survey for Amerian rankings and examples]. For example,
"This is a beautiful watch" (we will argue about the relative beauty of the watch, whether than argue about whether it's a watch)--beauty is a terminal value

"Talking behind someone's back is irresponsible"(we will argue about whether gossip is responsible communication).-- responsibility is an instrumental value

Claims of value depend on acceptance of the value by the audience and their agreement to the relative evaluation level assigned to the subject/object.

Claims of policy respond to the common English sentence: Who should Do What? Claims of policy propose that specific action should be undertaken/completed by specific entities. For example:

"Bradley University should replace the current library with a new building"
"Students at Bradley should be able to miss classes without penalty (faculty should not consider attendance in grading at Bradley)." [it's usually better to state a policy claim in the affirmative rather than the negative, though both happen]
"Bradley students should develop and execute disciplined study skills during their time at university."

There are sometimes implied claims of fact and value lurking inside claims of policy. For example:
"Since smoking is bad for the health of the smoker and imposes 2nd hand smoke risks to others, smoking on campus should be banned."
Here, the policy claim is that "smoking on campus should be banned" (and that IS, ultimately, what we will decide). However, during the argument we will probably debate the fact claims ("smoking is bad for the smoker," "second hand smoke is bad for others") as well as the value claims ("it's better to protect the general health of people on campus than to protect their personal rights and freedoms"--in this case, the right to partake in a legal activity, smoking). Neither of these subclaims DIRECTLY addresss the policy claim "smoking on campus should be banned" although establishing both the fact and value subclaims can help substantiate the policy claim.

It is important that you know when are making claims and what kinds of claims you are making. Making and substantiating a series of claims is how you "make an argument," in our case, via a written paper.

Likewise, it's important to be able to identify and evaluate the claims that others make, particularly when you are searching for evidence in support of your claims.

In both cases, it's crucial that the person making the claim (presenting the argument) provides sufficient support to establish their claim.

Be especially vigilant for instances in which the speaker/writer/source makes one (kind of) claim and supports another (but thereby expects the audience to accept the first as established). And of course, you don't want to make this error. For example, I might make the claim:

"Since smoking is bad for the health of the smoker and imposes 2nd hand smoke risks to others, smoking on campus should be banned."

I might then provide a TON of evidence in support of the health risks from smoking both to the smoker and those nearby. I might then ask you to conclude that we should, therefore, ban smoking on campus.

Note that I've not engaged in the implied value arguments (about the relative merits of limiting personal freedom in favor of public health). Nor have I directly argued about the policy I am advocating (how do we enact and enforce the policy? What are the sanctions/punishments? Who is in charge? etc.)

When your reading summary is targeted at CLAIMS
1) summarize the reading

2) Identify 3 major claims the author makes (or that the author quotes others as making) in the reading, one of each type, if possible (you may omit a type only if a type doesn't appear in the reading). List the claim, it's type, and the page number.


An example:

 Chapter two continues the story of how the internet got started and puts a focus on how the first networks really got started and how interest was generated in them. The beginning of the chapter briefly talks about how the Soviets appeared to be far ahead of us technologically and how this led to the creation of ARPA. ARPA was able to use government money to work on many experimental government projects. One of these was what became known as the ARPANET, a network researchers could use to share research and data. At the time there was still not a lot of interest in networking because people couldn’t see uses for it. The company who won the bid to build this network was a small company called BBN, and they were able to successfully build the network in about 9 months and were within the budget. To generate more interest in the usefulness of the network, a conference was held at the Washington Hilton Hotel and around sixty computer terminals were available for people to come through and access computers connected to the network across the country. It was really at this point that many began to see uses for networking.


On page 23 there is a claim of fact stating that in October 1957 the USSR launched Sputnik, the first satellite.

On page 30 there is a claim of value stating that ARPA’s functioning network will grow to support National Security.

On page 27 there is a claim of policy where it talks about how Lawrence Roberts told the ARPA researchers "you must get your machines to be compliant with TCP/IP in order to get them on the Internet."