Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Quick weakening/attack premises question

monika_pmonika_p Alum Member

I had a quick question - based on the 7sage lessons on weakening, you never directly attack a premise or conclusion; rather, you take support away from the premise(s). So, a lot of trap answer choices will seem like they're attacking a premise when they're not.

However, is there ever a case where an answer choice DOES directly attack the premise? And if so, is it right?

I ask because I think I remember JY saying in a video (and i can't remember which - I was BR'ing an exam): "When answer choices seem to attack a premise, 9 times out of 10 they're not actually attacking the premise, it just looks like they are. For the 1 time out of 10 though, it's a great way to weaken an argument."

So, if it does actually attack the premise, it would be right, but it's highly unlikely that they would do that, so they're probably just trapping you?

Thanks guys!

Comments

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    10721 karma

    @monika_p said:
    I had a quick question - based on the 7sage lessons on weakening, you never directly attack a premise or conclusion; rather, you take support away from the premise(s). So, a lot of trap answer choices will seem like they're attacking a premise when they're not.

    However, is there ever a case where an answer choice DOES directly attack the premise? And if so, is it right?

    I ask because I think I remember JY saying in a video (and i can't remember which - I was BR'ing an exam): "When answer choices seem to attack a premise, 9 times out of 10 they're not actually attacking the premise, it just looks like they are. For the 1 time out of 10 though, it's a great way to weaken an argument."

    So, if it does actually attack the premise, it would be right, but it's highly unlikely that they would do that, so they're probably just trapping you?

    Thanks guys!

    That is correct! Just make sure that when you think it's attacking the premise that's its actually attacking the premise. If that is indeed what's happening, then yes, attacking the premise pretty much weakens the argument completely.

    And I have come across at least 1 questions that I can remember that attacked the premise in later PT's. So it does happen and it was a 5 star question. I basically got it wrong because at that moment I was so used to an answer choice that attacks the premise as being wrong that I did not select it. So lesson learned that it does happen : ).

    Great questions by the way <3

  • monika_pmonika_p Alum Member
    194 karma

    @Sami thank you so much! This is exactly what i thought YAY!!

    It's so funny, cause I know that in real life attacking a premise is an effective way to weaken, but I was thinking maybe it was like an unwritten rule of the LSAT that they would never put an answer choice like that. I think I've taken about 15 PT's so far and I've never seen them do it. Thanks for pointing out that you've found exceptions! Now I'll be sure to be wary of them : )

  • Jonathan WangJonathan Wang Yearly Sage
    6713 karma

    I would love to see an example of the LSAC attacking a premise to weaken an argument, if anyone finds one please PM me the citation.

  • monika_pmonika_p Alum Member
    edited April 2017 194 karma

    I'd also be curious to see what that looks like

  • The 180 Bro_OVOThe 180 Bro_OVO Alum Inactive ⭐
    1392 karma

    agreed with @"Jonathan Wang" . I'd be curious to see that.

  • Rigid DesignatorRigid Designator Alum Member
    edited April 2017 1091 karma

    This is speculative, but if the LSAC do sneak in such a question, I would guess they'd do it by having you attack a conditional premise.

    So, for example, the following LSAC-like question:

    Rigid Designator: "Tangled Up In Blue was a song written by Bob Dylan in the early 1960s. Since it's widely agreed that all songs written by Dylan in the 60s are classic folk songs, we know Tangled Up In Blue is a classic folk song."

    Which of the following most weakens Rigid Designator's argument?

    Ok so to start you could formalise this argument like so.

    P1. Tangled Up In Blue was written in the 1960s by Bob Dylan.
    P2. If a Bob Dylan song was written in the 1960s it is a classic folk song.

    Conclusion. Tangled Up In Blue is a classic folk song.

    So, as was noted, the advice we're given is that the LSAC is unlikely to write a question where the correct answer choice simply attacks a premise or the conclusion. Why?

    My best guess is that it's because the LSAC want to avoid setting too many easy questions. What's that got to do with attacking premises? Well imagine you read the following amongst the answer choices to my question.

    (a) Tangled Up In Blue was not actually written during the 1960s.*

    "Bingo. Easy peasy. A direct contradiction of premise 1. We've successfully weakened the argument - he employed a false premise. On to the next question."

    It's those types of easy answers I think that LSAC wants to avoid.

    However, imagine a world where instead of answer (a) we were given answer choice (b).

    (b) It is universally agreed that Bob Dylan's 1967 song I'll Be Your Baby Tonight is not a folk song.

    This answer choice also successfully weakens my argument, and it also does so by attacking a premise (P2) - it shows that not all Dylan songs from the 60s are folk songs, so it can't be that all Dylan songs from the 60s are classic folk songs. But that's a lot less obvious an answer than (a) was.

    (a) was just a straight up negation of a premise of my argument - you see that if you understand the meaning of "not actually". (b), however, required you to recognise the logical structure of P2 (a conditional claim) and then recognise that (b) defeats it (since it provides an example where the antecedent is met but the consequent fails to hold).

    These latter sorts of questions, I suspect, the LSAC are perfectly fine setting. They're testing your logical acumen, even though at the end of the day you're just undermining a premise.

    As an aside, notice that (b) doesn't exactly attack the logical connection between the premises and the conclusion. We can see that by supposing that P1 and P2 are actually true. If they were actually true, we'd have a valid, sound argument. By defeating P2 we aren't undoing this logical connection between the premises and the conclusion, we're just showing a premise is false and that the argument is unsound. The argument is still valid.

    Anyway, like I said this is just my best-guess, speculative answer, in-lieu of no-one knowing of any actual examples.

    *[Side note: this is true, it was written in the early 70s]

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2017 10721 karma

    @"Jonathan Wang" said:
    I would love to see an example of the LSAC attacking a premise to weaken an argument, if anyone finds one please PM me the citation.

    I think PT 53 Section1 Question 8 is a good example of a question where the right answer just said two of the three studies were done badly because of their sample size. It effectively weakened a big part of the conclusion because it knocked out one of the premise.
    @"Jonathan Wang" what do you think? I would really like to hear if you think this is a good example of that. : )

    @monika_p
    Lol that was my exact thinking too. I think if I was to see this in real life I would have been like yeah, your two studies are bad but on the test I eliminated it because it attacked the premise. :joy:

    @"The 180 Bro_OVO" said:
    agreed with @"Jonathan Wang" . I'd be curious to see that.

    Let me know what you think of it as well. I am really curious to hear your thoughts on this as well : )

  • Jonathan WangJonathan Wang Yearly Sage
    edited April 2017 6713 karma

    We need to distinguish between directly attacking a premise and "knocking out" a premise in the colloquial sense.

    Directly attacking a premise means denying the truth of the statement. "Knocking out" a premise, at least if I'm understanding your usage of that phrase right, involves any discrediting of a premise as it relates to the argument. It's the difference between "Your study didn't actually find zero correlation" and "The study that found no correlation was poorly conducted".

    If 53/1/8 is an example of an allegedly impermissible method of reasoning, then what do we do with all the times the LSAC cites "unrepresentative sample" as a flaw? In fact, isn't that exactly the flaw in question here? How can something be a flaw but not subject an argument to weakening?

    Directly attacking a premise is a factual dispute; that is never permissible. "Knocking out" a premise involves severing or weakening its relationship to the conclusion - that's a logical dispute, and wholly permissible.

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2017 10721 karma

    @"Jonathan Wang" said:
    We need to distinguish between directly attacking a premise and "knocking out" a premise in the colloquial sense.

    Directly attacking a premise means denying the truth of the statement. "Knocking out" a premise, at least if I'm understanding your usage of that phrase right, involves any discrediting of a premise as it relates to the argument. It's the difference between "Your study didn't actually find zero correlation" and "The study that found no correlation was poorly conducted".

    If 53/1/8 is an example of an allegedly impermissible method of reasoning, then what do we do with all the times the LSAC uses "unrepresentative sample" as a flaw?

    Directly attacking a premise is a factual dispute; that is never permissible. "Knocking out" a premise involves severing or weakening its relationship to the conclusion - that's a logical dispute, and wholly permissible.

    @"Jonathan Wang" said:
    We need to distinguish between directly attacking a premise and "knocking out" a premise in the colloquial sense.

    Directly attacking a premise means denying the truth of the statement. "Knocking out" a premise, at least if I'm understanding your usage of that phrase right, involves any discrediting of a premise as it relates to the argument. It's the difference between "Your study didn't actually find zero correlation" and "The study that found no correlation was poorly conducted".

    If 53/1/8 is an example of an allegedly impermissible method of reasoning, then what do we do with all the times the LSAC uses "unrepresentative sample" as a flaw?

    Directly attacking a premise is a factual dispute; that is never permissible. "Knocking out" a premise involves severing or weakening its relationship to the conclusion - that's a logical dispute, and wholly permissible.

    @"Jonathan Wang"
    I thought about if this answer was about "unrepresentative sample" and it is exactly what the answer choice is saying. It just seemed that usually in LSAT stimulus the way the conclusion is derived from the premise I can tell if it would be a "sampling" flaw because of the way the author uses the premise to come to that conclusion. Here I felt they used three studies and just combined the results of them in the conclusion. I agree its pretty relevant that that the studies be conducted with a good sample size, it just didn't seem like it was the method of reasoning used. The answer choice "C" just kind of takes out those two studies and that's why I thought it was attacking the premise.

    Your point about the difference in "your study didn't find zero correlation" and the "study that found no correlation was poorly conducted" was very helpful. : )

    @"Jonathan Wang" Thank you for replying. I would love to hear more about this from you because I think its great that my false assumptions about method of reasoning and anticipating answer choices are being exposed here. : )

  • monika_pmonika_p Alum Member
    194 karma

    @"Jonathan Wang" so you would still argue that attacking a premise is never permissible in an answer choice?

  • Jonathan WangJonathan Wang Yearly Sage
    edited April 2017 6713 karma

    I don't think I've ever seen it, but I don't know if that's because it doesn't ever happen, if I'm wrong and it does actually happen, or if I'm just going senile and don't remember either way. That's why if anyone has an example, I'd love to have a look.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    edited April 2017 27328 karma

    I think the real question is what do we mean when we say "attacking a premise." Saying the study sucks accepts the truth of the statement and then denies the relevancy of that truth: "Yes, the study did find X, but the experiment was flawed so it doesn't actually support the conclusion." That's very different from denying the truth of the statement: "No, the study did not find X as you claim. It found Y." This denial of the truth value is what we mean when we say "attacking the premise." Attacking the support is when we accept the truth value and then add to it in a way which makes that truth unsupportive of the conclusion.

    So I'm not sure anyone is functionally wrong here. It seems to me like we're just working from different definitions.

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    10721 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    I think the real question is what do we mean when we say "attacking a premise." Saying the study sucks accepts the truth of the statement and then denies the relevancy of that truth: "Yes, the study did find X, but the experiment was flawed so it doesn't actually support the conclusion." That's very different from denying the truth of the statement: "No, the study did not find X as you claim. It found Y." This denial of the truth value is what we mean when we say "attacking the premise." Attacking the support is when we accept the truth value and then add to it in a way which makes that truth unsupportive of the conclusion.

    So I'm not sure anyone is functionally wrong here. It seems to me like we're just working from different definitions.

    @"Jonathan Wang" and @"Cant Get Right" That's what I don't understand here. I don't see a sampling flaw being conducted in the stimulus itself but I do see despite that the correct answer choices just denies the relevancy of that study.

    It felt like it took out the premise itself without attacking the gap between the premise and conclusion which is what I thought we usually do to attack the "argument" itself.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27328 karma

    @Sami said:
    I do see despite that the correct answer choices just denies the relevancy of that study.

    It felt like it took out the premise itself without attacking the gap between the premise and conclusion which is what I thought we usually do to attack the "argument" itself.

    Key word: "the relevancy"
    It does deny the relevancy, but it does not contradict the truth of the statements. The studies do exist, and they do conclude what the stimulus says they conclude. Their relevancy to the argument is the support structure. If we can make them irrelevant, we undermine the conclusion without attacking the studies themselves.

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    10721 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" said:

    @Sami said:
    I do see despite that the correct answer choices just denies the relevancy of that study.

    It felt like it took out the premise itself without attacking the gap between the premise and conclusion which is what I thought we usually do to attack the "argument" itself.

    Key word: "the relevancy"
    It does deny the relevancy, but it does not contradict the truth of the statements. The studies do exist, and they do conclude what the stimulus says they conclude. Their relevancy to the argument is the support structure. If we can make them irrelevant, we undermine the conclusion without attacking the studies themselves.

    If I am getting this correctly:

    Attacking the premise is basically only applicable to a scenario where we deny the truth of premise? example, the studies conclusions were wrong despite being well conducted and/or just you were wrong when you looked at the study? ****

    And weakening/strengthening the argument involves not just exploiting the gap between premise and conclusion and the method of reasoning used to go from premise to conclusion ****but also just the "sturdiness/strength" of the premise itself?****

    I think I always assumed that LSAT argument only involves how the premises are used to get to the conclusion. And that's why you could have a study in the stimulus for many questions and the correct answer usually depends on exploiting the gap of how that study is used to support that conclusion. If it talked about the groups in the study and there is a gap or jump made the right answer usually points to that unless there are two gaps. But I feel like this question does not even use the gaps in the way the studies are used. I am not arguing the answer choices do not weaken, it obviously does if the study is irrelevant. I am just adjusting my definition and how I see LSAT arguments.

    Am I understanding this correctly? @"Cant Get Right"

Sign In or Register to comment.