January 15, 2018

Set up column break

Types of Claims

Last week

What are claims?

What are bases for claims?

  • scientific
  • unscientific

This week

What kinds of questions are there?

What kinds of claims (answers) are there?

How to tell them apart?

Which are answerable?

Some questions:

- How many firearms homicides took place in the U.S. and Canada in 2016?

-What percentage of income is earned by the richest 1% of Canadians?

- What percentage of Canadians use cannabis recreationally?

What kinds of questions are these?

Some claims

- Canada had 223 and the US had 11004 firearms homicides in 2016.

-The top 1% of Canadians make about 14% of all income.

- About 16% of Canadians over the age of 15 use cannabis.

Descriptive claims:

Descriptive claim:

Claim about something that is (was) in the world or the state of the world

Some new questions

- Why does the U.S. have more firearms homicides per capita than Canada?

- Why has the share of income going to the top 1% increased nearly twofold since 1977?

- Would legalizing cannabis result in higher rates of impaired driving?

What kinds of questions are these?

How are they different from the first set?

Some new claims

- The US has more firearms homicides per capita than Canada because the US has laxer gun laws than Canada.

- Income inequality in Canada is higher than 40 years ago, because tax rates on the highest earners have been reduced.

- Legalizing cannabis would cause in higher rates of impaired driving.

Causal claims:

Claims about:

  • the effect that one thing has (had) on another thing
  • the cause of some event or thing in the world

Causal claims:

How to recognize them:

Causal claims include a causal verb. E.g.:

"causes", "influences","makes happen", "increases", "decreases", "results in", "was necessary for", etc.

Causal claims: Variations

Why an event/condition/choice happens or doesn't happen:

  • Riots in Ayodhya happened because the BJP led a provocative march.

Causal claims: Variations

Why an event/condition/choice happens or doesn't happen:

  • Riots in Ayodhya happened because the BJP led a provocative march.

The conditions under which an event/outcome/choice happens:

  • Contact with someone from an oppressed group can change opinions about that group only when people have little knowledge or experience with that group.

Causal claims: Variations

The effect of an event/condition on other things:

  • Government multicultural policies in favor of tolerance reduce ethnic hatreds.

Causal claims: Variations

The effect of an event/condition on other things:

  • Government multicultural policies in favor of tolerance reduce ethnic hatreds.

The process through which one thing affects another:

  • Secular political parties prevent religious violence by deploying police more aggressively.

Causal claims: Variations

Why an event/condition/choice happens or doesn't happen:

The conditions under which an event/outcome/choice happens:

The effect of an event/condition on other things:

The process through which one thing affects another:

How are causal claims different?

The city of Chicago has strict gun laws and a high gun-related murder rate.

  • is this descriptive or causal?
  • NOT causal

Descriptive and causal claims:

How are they related?

  • Descriptive claims basis for causal claim

What would causal claim be without descriptive claims?

Examples:

- The US has more firearms homicides per capita than Canada because the US has laxer gun laws than Canada.

- Income inequality in Canada is higher than 40 years ago, because tax rates on the highest earners have been reduced.

- Legalizing cannabis would cause in higher rates of impaired driving.

Some more questions

- Should the US have stricter gun control?

- Should the taxes on the richest Canadians be increased?

- Should new regulations place restrictions on driving while using cannabis?

What kinds of questions are these?

Some more claims:

- The US should enact stricter gun control

- Parliament should increase taxes on the rich.

- New regulations should make it illegal to drive while using cannabis.

Normative/Prescriptive Claims:

Claims about what should or should not be (or have been) done.

  • Claims about what is "right" or "wrong"
  • Claims abut "too much", "enough", "not enough" of something
    • implies that something should change

Relationship to descriptive claims:

Could we have a prescriptive claim without descriptive claims?

Examples

- British voters did the right thing for their country by voting for "Brexit".

- China is better off under its current government than it would be as a competitive democracy.

- The US and its allies should have intervened in Syria to stop violence in 2011

Relationship to descriptive claims:

Could we have a prescriptive claim without causal claims?

Examples

- British voters did the right thing for their country by voting for "Brexit".

- China is better off under its current government than it would be as a competitive democracy.

- The US and its allies should have intervened in Syria to stop violence in 2011

Types of Claims

Recap

Descriptive claims

Causal claims

Normative/prescriptive claims

Housing prices in BC

- Are housing prices in BC too high?

- Why have housing prices in BC increased dramatically in the past 15 years?

- Why has the NDP opposed a ban on foreign ownership of property?

- Should the BC government limit property ownership to residents?

- How many people commute to Vancouver for work and cannot afford to live there?

Housing prices in BC

- Are housing prices in BC too high? prescriptive

- Why have housing prices in BC increased dramatically in the past 15 years? causal

- Why has the NDP opposed a ban on foreign ownership of property? causal

- Should the BC government limit property ownership to residents? prescriptive

- How many people commute to Vancouver for work and cannot afford to live there? descriptive

Summary:

Descriptive claims

  • No explicit statement that one thing causes another

  • correlation \(\neq\) causation

During years in which more (fewer) Japanese passenger cars were sold in the US there were more (fewer) vehicular suicides in the US.

Summary:

Causal claims

  • Explicit statement that one thing exerts influence on another
    • (increase, reduce, prevent, cause, make happen, is necessary, etc.)

Summary:

Causal claims

Does this claim imply that, if we could directly change one thing, then we would see a change in the other?

Summary:

Example:

"Countries with more women in the legislature have more protections for womens' reproductive and marital rights."

  • Is this a causal claim?

Example:

"The entry of more women into a legislature results in more legal protections for womens' reproductive and marital rights."

  • If we forced more women into government, we would expect to see a change. CAUSAL

Summary:

Prescriptive/normative

Build on descriptive, causal claims

also must invoke some value about what is desirable/undesirable

Type Definition Terms Attribute Dependence Can.be.false
Descriptive …about a thing in the world how many, is an X no cause stated none yes
Causal …about effect of one thing on another causes, increases, influences y would not happen without x descriptive yes
Prescriptive …about what should (not) be done should, too much/few, enough what ought to be descriptive,causal no

Empirical claims:

Questions that can be answered by

  • observing the world
  • giving evidence

Claims that can be justified with:

  • observation
  • evidence

Empirical claims

Descriptive

  • YES

Causal

  • YES

Prescriptive

  • NOT ENOUGH

  • Always includes a value judgment

What is a value judgment?

It isn't

  • A claim someone bases on their opinion

  • A claim someone bases on personal experience

  • A claim that we can't persuade someone to drop

Why not?

  • People can vehemently assert an opinion that is contrary to evidenc

  • Personal experience can be factually incorrect

  • Stubbornness to evidence doesn't make it irrelevant

Flat earth

Flat earth

Birthers