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The term 'subject' is used in many different ways in English. Used loosely, it can mean the topic one is investigating, as in 'the subject of my paper is the continued inequalities of patriarchal culture'. In grammar, 'subject' refers to the part of a sentence with which the verb agrees: 'domestic violence [subject] remains rife in our society [object]'. However, in this book, subject is used to refer to a thinking, conscious person (so that authors and audiences of reasoning are 'human subjects'). Its meaning only becomes clear in relation to the term 'object'—those events, ideas, things in the world about which we (as subjects) make claims. For example, some philosophers might argue that the difference between 'subjective' and 'objective' analysis is that the former involves the desires and biases of the subject doing the analysis, whereas the latter is uninfluenced, except by the true nature of the object. However, it can also be argued that knowledge and reasoning (whatever their objective elements) always involve people and so can be regarded as 'intersubjective'. The human subjects bringing about this intersubjectivity are not merely 'people' but include the knowledge, ideas, structures, and attitudes that make those people who they are. (See chapters 2 and 9.)

sweeping generalisation

A mistake in reasoning that occurs when the scope or certainty of the conclusion is inconsistent with (normally much greater than) the scope or certainty of the premises that support it. (See chapter 4.)

terms, reasoning from

The conclusion proposes a particular definition based on the terms laid out in the premises. The key question is: how can I express my definition in terms that make clear its meaning in a particular context? (See chapter 7.)


We call any connected series of statements a text. Texts are only meaningful in context, which is literally all the potential knowledge and audiences that go along with a text. Compare with context. (See chapter 2.)

value claim

Many claims have a value component. Some are explicit; others are implicit, buried in the particular choice of words. Often a claim that is (in itself) descriptive takes on a value element from other claims to which it is connected. Remember, too, that in such situations different authors and audiences can invest the same claim with different values. Compare with descriptive claim. (See chapter 2.)

well-formed claim

A claim is well formed when it clearly expresses what its author intends it to say. Good formation of claims requires authors to consider consciously properties of connections and issues of value, scope, and certainty. A well-formed claim may or

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