Quick look definitions of basic terms

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-A claim is any statement that can be evaluated as true or false.-

Questions are not claims, phrases are not claims, but sentences that say “one thing of another,” (as ancient philosophers put it) are claims. Claims can be simple factual statements based on immediate observations, such as, “It’s raining”. They can also be statements about relationships between things or ideas, such as, “If you don’t take care of your things, you will lose them.” Naturally, some claims are easier to evaluate for truth or falsity than others.


-When we offer one claim as a reason for another we are giving a rationale.-

A rationale is any speech or writing which includes at least one reason for a related conclusion. Rationales always have a two-part structure – one thing (the premises) is asserted as a reason for another (the conclusion).


-Reasons we offer for a conclusion that help us decide whether to believe the conclusion are called arguments.-

Should I believe in universal health care? Should we go to war? If you answer these questions and give even one reason for believing in the truth of your answer, you have given an argument.


-Reasons we offer for a claim that help us understand how some fact or situation came about are explanations.-

If your car doesn’t start, you might try to find an explanation. You might present this rationale: The car doesn’t start (conclusion), because it has no gas (premise). Whether you are explaining a conclusion or giving a reason for believing a conclusion, you are giving a rationale, which is the basic structure of thought we will work with in this manual.


Every reason, premise, or conclusion is a claim.

-A claim becomes a “reason” if it is intended as a justification or explanation of some conclusion.-

---Premise & Conclusion---

It is important to think of a rationale as a structure which always has two parts: the claim(s)

-that are offered as reasons (premises)and the claim (conclusion) that the premises support or explain.-

---Reflective Deliberative Context---

-the idea of a reflective deliberative context as a plurality of voices helps capture the experience of deliberation as interactive.-