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  Definitions of "Proposition"

  • "a judgment expressed in words" (Whately)
  • "an assertion requiring multiple arguments." 
  • "a debate topic negotiated between disputants." (with defined terms, etc.)
  1. Proposition: The overarching claim of an extended argument

  3. Issues are QUESTIONS of potential dispute under a proposition.
    1. Some are relevant; others are irrelevant.
    2. Some are likely to be ignored or made irrelevant in context.
  4. Requirements for constructing a good proposition.  Propositions must be claims that are:
    1. Controversial
    2. Significant and current (but not yet generally accepted)
    3. Clear in focusing on an identifiable set of issues
      1. No ambiguous terms (Thus, define terms that might be unclear!)
      2. Avoid "double-barreled" claims (ones that require two conclusions)
    4. Balanced (Both sides need an equal chance to prevail.)
    5. Challenges the status quo (that is, advocates something different from the current state of affairs)
  5. Phrasing concerns for constructing propositions:
    1. State it as a declarative sentence
    2. Avoid all "loaded language"
    3. Use terms that can be defined objectively
    4. For policy propositions, the phrasing must propose change in belief and action
    5. The proposition must state the direction of change

Last updated 2/7/2007