Four: Session Three
- Critical thinkers want to know what
is true. That's the whole point of reasoning. In this section
you will learn what the word "truth" means, what knowledge
is and how it differs from opinion. You will also learn how to
properly categorize sentences so you can know how to evaluate
- Every claim has four attributes, the first three of which
must be determined before reasoning. The fourth attribute is
determined by reasoning.
- Every claim is either descriptive
- Descriptive claims tell how the
world is, was, or will be.
- Example: "Bob is friendly." This sentence describes
how the world (Bob being part of the world) is.
- Example: "Texas was once a sovereign nation." This
sentence describes how the world used to be.
- Prescriptive claims tell how the
world should be. (This includes
all possible time frames.)
- Example: "You should take your doctor's advice."
- Example: "Abortion should remain legal."
- Should means, "There is an overriding reason to..." In
the first example, the person is recommending that given all
possible choices, there is a reason which is so strong and so
compelling, that all other options must be abandoned in favor
of following the doctor's advice.
- Related term: Normative
- Normative claims are a subset of prescriptive claims which
deal with values and morality. The second example, "Abortion
should remain legal" is a normative claim.
- Non-normative prescriptive claims usually follow the following
- If____________, then_____________,
- as in, "If you want to see a good play, then you should
go to the one that is downtown this week.
- Notice that if you don't go, you haven't done something
- Frequently normative claims don't contain "should," but
rather use a value word, like "wrong" or "good." For instance,
"It is wrong to rob banks." Translated it becomes, "One should
never rob a bank."