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Claims and counter-claims

Argument is an integral component of academic discourse and in postgraduate writing one of the most important uses of argument is for generating inquiry. Thus, the postgraduate writer becomes more concerned about "exploring the complexities of the subject or field rather than challenging the convictions of the unknown reader". It is important to define notion of claims and counter-claims in the context of inquiry.

Peters, 1986, p. 170


Claims may generally be regarded as statements on knowledge that the author posits to be true. In inquiry, however, the author will explore disciplinary knowledge and pass judgments on the claims proposed by scholars in the field. Furthermore, the author, although passing judgment on the merits of the claims advanced by other scholars, may not necessarily reach a definitive conclusion on the topic of investigation. Indeed, in some instances, after considering the knowledge advanced by other scholars, the author may merely advance a tentative hypothesis. Thus, claims are often marked with cautious language.


In inquiry, the aim is "to discover arguments that are relevant to a position or thesis and to discover the strength or weaknesses of those arguments". It is therefore necessary to present different scholarly views in order to map out the range of knowledge and opinion in the field. This is often done through the use of counter-claims - the raising of objections and positing responses to those objections.

We may elect to call the judgment that an author reaches after critiquing the knowledge in the field the author's central claim. An author may, after the process of inquiry, generate an original conclusion or new line of thought distinct from the claims proffered by other scholars. In this sense, argumentation is a process of discovery and inquiry is a mechanism for generating new claims on knowledge.

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