Wellfounded claims The problem of true claims

A claim, whether it is a conclusion or a premise, has one essential property: that it claims to be a true statement (either actual or possible—what is or what ought to be). Hence, while claims must first be well formed, so that we can express this state of affairs precisely, claims must also be well founded, so that their truth is not too easily called into question. If I were to say, 'This book will totally change your life!', you would probably not accept this claim, because as it stands, this claim is unfounded (not based on believable intellectual foundations) and is thus of doubtful truth.

The whole purpose of using reasoning is, in fact, to give foundations (via the premises) for the conclusion, to show that it is acceptable, or to establish an acceptable explanation of it. Obviously, then, the 'well-foundedness' of the premises becomes equally (if not more) important than the well-foundedness of the conclusion. How can an audience assess our conclusion except by first considering the premises? Indeed, for any claim to be well founded, whether it be conclusion or premise, there must be some reason(s) for the audience accepting it. Every claim, in this sense, must be treated as a conclusion in need of premises. Every argument or explanation in which we use premises to prove a conclusion depends, therefore, on other arguments or explanations, which establish those premises. We have seen this situation in some of the examples in previous chapters, in which a conclusion is reached only after a series of arguments (arranged in a complex structure) have been developed.

Here is an example:

1. Australia is a good country in which to live.

2. Countries that permit freedom of religious expression are good places to live.

3. Australia permits freedom of religious expression.

4. Australia has no laws that forbid any religion.

5. The people who live in Australia let others practise their religions peacefully even if they do not agree with those religions.

6. If a country has no laws against individual religions and the people of that country do not object to any religious practices, then freedom of religious expression exists in that country.

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