I get the impression that a lot of people on this site confuse opinions with assumptions. I've seen it in this
discussion, as well as in some PM conversations relating to other threads.
It's somewhat understandable that such confusion might occur, as both are often contrasted with facts. However,
the distinction is pretty crucial, and we need some thread to link to for future reference in order to address it.
For now, I'm going to use the approach I was taught in an economics course at MUN; the "positive vs. normative" distinction.
- "Positive" statements are claims about what is the case. (For example, if someone were to claim that the majority of Americans considered Bush a good president.) Both facts and assumptions fall under this category, and the distinction between those two is in the level of certainty.
- "Normative" statements are more along the lines of whether or not one considers it a good thing that something is the case. (For the same example as before, if someone were to claim specifically that Bush was a good president, and/or to claim that it's a good thing Americans think that way, etc.) Opinions would fall under this category.
Of course, "positive" might be a less-than-ideal word, given its association with "pleasant," or "certain," or "the electrical charge opposite that of the electron," etc... so if someone has an explanation that sums this up while using better words that would be appreciated.
As it is, I'd like to think this is a decent enough explanation for future reference in clearing up the distinction.
edited 29th Dec '11 7:19:06 PM by HiddenFacedMatt