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Chapter 5: Value and Descriptive Assumptions

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by

HEATHER ANDERSON

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 5: Value and Descriptive Assumptions

Value Assumption
A value assumption is an implicit preference for one value over another in a particular context.

Most values tend to be shared: we all value Freedom; Order; Autonomy; Justice, etc.
But most of us have unconscious preferences or priorities
These shape our Value Assumptions
Consider the case of Travyon Martin and George Zimmerman
Gun Rights (2nd Amendment),Right to defend yourself, Right to assumption of innocence,
Right to justice, Right to be free of discrimination, Right to be treated equally

Assumptions
Chapter 5: Value and Descriptive Assumptions

A belief, usually unstated, that is taken for granted and supports the explicit reasoning.

Assumptions are:

Hidden or unstated
Taken for granted
Influential in determining the conclusion
Potentially deceptive
How to Decode Value Assumptions
Investigate background of writer or speaker: political party; gender and race and class; employment; organizational affiliation
But beware of making Hasty Generalizations!
Consequences are clues to Value Assumptions
Examine Reasons given for Conclusion
What Value Priorities would lead to these reasons being judged more desirable than those that might have led to the other side of the issue?
Example: “Nuclear power plants should not be built because they will pollute our environment.”

Hidden Assumptions
When people give arguments sometimes certain assumptions are left implicit (implied, rather than expressly stated).
Example :
Homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural.
This argument as it stands is not valid. Someone who gives such an argument presumably has in mind the hidden assumption that whatever that is unnatural is wrong. It is only when this assumption is added that the argument becomes valid.
Reverse Role Play
Ask yourself: why would someone want to argue for the given Conclusion?
Example: Monkeys should not be used in experimental research.
Why would someone argue for this? What values might underlie this Conclusion?

Clues to Locating Assumptions
Descriptive Assumption:

An unstated belief about how the world was, is,
or will become

Amanda: My boyfriend broke up with me; that proves I’m a total loser.

Descriptive assumption: My value as a person is determined by how my boyfriend treats me.
Keep thinking about gap b/w the conclusion and reasons
Look for unstated ideas and support reasons
Identify with the writer or speaker
Identify with the opposition (why would anyone disagree)
Recognize the potential existence of other means of attaining the advantages referred to in the reasons(establishing credit....more ways than a credit card)
Avoid setting incompletely established reasons as assumptions(author's reason has not been sufficiently established by evidence)
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