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Definitions
Reasonableness ­ is the claim or scenario "basically possible" or "fair
enough" e.g. if a student, Jane, claims she is late for school because "the
train was late" ­ this is basically possible/reasonable because trains are
not 100% reliable.
Plausibility ­ how likely is the outcome stated in a given claim or
scenario? We can use prediction (hypothetical reasoning) to work out
whether the outcome is likely. Say someone claims "Jane will never be
on time to school." Firstly the claim involves the word "never" ­ making
it strong and hence not as likely to be credible. Then using hypothetical
reasoning we can make statements like if Jane is determined that from
now on she will get to school on time by using an alternative form of
transport than we can see this claim isn't accurate. Or, if Jane has never
been on time to school before then it seems likely she may never be on
time in the future etc.
Credibility ­ how believable is the source of the claim (the
person/organisation/document)…read more

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Example
Firstly we need to know the precise nature, strength and extent of the claim so we
know exactly what is being claimed. For example the statement Torbay United are set
for success is fairly vague ­ what is meant by success? Winning some matches,
winning more matches than last season, being the best in the league?
Winning some matches is not a very strong statement so seems plausible, winning
more matches also seems quite plausible however being best in the league seems a lot
less plausible considering Torquay United are not a very successful team.
When assessing the plausibility/reasonableness of a claim we also have to look at the
evidence that could be used to provide support to the opinion. The evidence could be
"there are five good, new, young players in the team" which supports the idea they
will win more matches than last season or the team did so badly last year it can't do
any worse!
Then we would have to assess the quality of the evidence ­ is it recent, relevant,
representative, are there other interpretations, is it meaningful, what were the
circumstances, is it ambiguous, is it reliable?
Also we would have to look at how credible the source was, whether he has a good
reputation, whether he has experience in this area etc.…read more

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Credibility of the sources
Corroboration ­ can a witnesses' account be confirmed by evidence
given from another source?
Reputation ­ what is the persons/organisations past performance,
behaviour and character?
Ability to perceive ­ was it an eye witness account and if so how
reliable is it?
Bias ­ does the source have a tendency to be prejudiced against or in
favour of certain beliefs.
Vested Interest - will they benefit personally from the outcome?
Inconsistency - when two pieces of evidence can not both be correct
at the same time.
Neutrality ­ when the source is impartial
Expertise ­ does the source have relevant experience?…read more

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