Sun 15 - Sat 21 November 2020 Online Conference

Programming languages researchers make a variety of different kinds of claims about the design of languages and related tools and calculi. Each type of claim requires different kinds of reasons and evidence to justify. Claims regarding the aesthetics or elegance of a design, or its effects on people, are especially tricky to justify because they are less strictly defined and thus are subject to change depending on the exact audience. In this essay, we take an interdisciplinary approach to this problem by drawing on the fields of argument theory and rhetorical analysis to develop a framework for justifying audience-dependent claims. In particular, we argue that researchers should provide descriptions of specific features of their systems that connect to effects on audience in order to justify these claims. To demonstrate this framework, we show several examples of how this is already being practiced in some programming languages research, and conclude by calling for authors to provide descriptive evidence to bolster such claims and to frame and strengthen other evaluation methods such as user studies.