WikiInfoLit Unit 5 - Objectivity and Wikipedia


Goals for this unit

In this unit, you will learn about objectivity, which is reliance on arguments based on claims, grounds, and warrants. In the context of Wikipedia, you'll learn about their Verifiability policy. You will be able to help your students learn to discern fact from opinion and detect inadequately supported statements in information sources.

Introduction to Objectivity


Subjective things are from a person's internal experience. Feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and opinions are subjective. They can't be proven or disproven. By contrast, objective things can, at least in theory, be proven and disproven with evidence and logic. You can use the Toulmin Argumentation Model of arguments with claims, grounds, and warrants.

  • A claim is a statement that can be proven or disproven.
  • A ground is a piece of evidence used to back up a claim.
  • A warrant is the chain of reasoning is used to connect the ground and the claim.
  • Backing is support or justifications for the warrant - why it is correct.
  • A qualification specifies any limits to the claim, warrant, and/or backing.

Sources whose objectivity is flawed have either or both of these problems:

  • There is subjectivity (emotional appeals, unsubstantiated opinions) mixed in with the objective material.
  • The grounds, warrants, backing, or qualifications are flawed.

Supplemental Resources

For more information about argumentation, see this lecture by Alexander Clarkson: Introducing the Toulmin Model. It is long but very clear and thorough.

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