Claims whose truthfulness is not in question

An example of a claim that we might expect to use self-evidently is 'The earth orbits the sun. But, if we are to be sure that the claims in our arguments and explanations are well founded in the context of their audience, we cannot simply assume that they are self-evident. For example, a group of young children would, probably, need to be convinced that the earth orbited the sun since, just on the basis of their observation, the sun goes around the earth. But, we can assume, a group of adults would not require any such convincing: they will have already come to accept that 'the earth orbits the sun is a true claim.

The difficulty, of course, is that apart from some obvious claims, such as the example just used, most claims are in doubt to some degree or another, or for some audience or another. And there is another category of claim that poses an even more difficult problem: claims whose truthfulness is not in doubt, but should be\ Here is an example of this dual dilemma. If someone claimed, without giving a foundation, that 'citizens of Singapore enjoy considerable freedom1, then many Australians (and Singaporeans) might doubt the truth of this claim. In doing so, they would be drawing on existing (that is, contextual) knowledge of, say, the limitations of free speech in Singapore, the many restrictions on what one can and cannot do, and the fact that Singapore has always been governed by the same political party since gaining independence from the United Kingdom.

To establish the truth of the claim, its author would have to somehow overcome the audience's initial scepticism. Such a claim might well be true if we understand that freedom can mean both freedom to do some positive act (that is, the freedom to voice critical opinions of the government) and freedom from some negative circumstance (that is, freedom from hunger and poverty). Hence, although the

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