Monday, July 14, 2008

The Craft of Research: Quick Tip (challenging warrants)

Rule of thumb: Unpack them first. Ask a writer for his/her warrant for a claim, then ask for the evidence s/he used. The text offers divisions of various kinds of warrants:
  • Data-based: to challenge the statistics, get better ones (in other words, challenge the quality of the writer's data).
  • Authority-based: challenge the authority on whatever grounds are reasonable - the matter might be "beyond the reach of the authority's expertise" or the evidence you found may have been unknown to the authority.
  • Belief-system-based: since "facts" are made less relevant by the usage of belief, the easier way to challenge is to "show that the instance [cited] does not fall under the warrant." In other words, show that it is in a different category than the one to which the warrant applies.
  • Culture-based: very difficult to challenge. (How do you say that someone's culture is wrong?)
  • Methodology-based: these warrants must be applied to concrete data to have content. Important ones include generalization, analogy, cause-effect, sign, and categorization. How to challenge: look hard at the application in question or "point out limiting conditions."
  • Faith-based: this is in the general sense of anything believed. It cannot be challenged.

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