62 Proposition of Value

A proposition of value is one that asserts a speaker’s sense of values or a writer’s sense of right and wrong. It discusses good and bad, just and unjust, the beautiful and the ugly. Value claims make judgments, and readers need to evaluate the evidence and assumptions supporting such claims. Value claims try to prove that some idea, action, or condition is good or bad, right or wrong, worthwhile or worthless. These may include arguments (claims) about a moral, aesthetic, or philosophical topic (value). Some propositions of value include:

  • Capital punishment is cruel and unjust.
  • The “pursuit of happiness ” is a worthy life ambition.
  • America’s national parks enrich the nation.

Each of these propositions can be supported by conducting research, but you will want to go further and involve the emotion of the audience. In a speech about capital punishment, you will probably find data about the execution of people later found to be innocent due to DNA evidence, but you also may want to argue the unfairness of the way people are put to death or present the arguments made by the American Civil Liberties Union with respect to the unfairness of the justice system. They argue that, in many areas, almost ten African-Americans are executed for each Caucasian ( “Race and the Death Penalty “). As you establish the truth of your propositions, you impact both the attitudes and the beliefs of the audience.

A proposition of value suggests certain values are important and that adoption of the proposition would achieve those desired values. Propositions of value are shown to be desirable or undesirable. For example, with respect to the Patriot Act, one can argue that privacy ought to be valued above security, or one can argue that security should be valued over privacy. In these statements, the two values are privacy and security. Reasonable people could argue that one value (privacy) ought to be considered more important than another value (security). On the other hand, one could argue that security should be valued over privacy.


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