PT65.S4.Q23 - dogs are the descendants of domesticated wolves

chrijani7chrijani7 Alum Member
edited December 2015 in General 827 karma

This question has had me stumped for like 3 days! I have done everything I can to wrap my head around it, but it just doesn't seem to want to click for me. So, is there anyone out there that may be able to help me understand why the correct answer is correct, I basically ruled all the answers out and guessed (E), but can see why its wrong after the fact. It is a most strongly supported question.

The question begins with background: Dogs are descendants of domesticated wolves.

Premise: It has recently been found that some dogs are much more closely related genetically to wolves than to most other breeds of dogs.

Conclusion: This shows that some dogs are descended from wolves that were domesticated much more recently than others.

(B) starts off telling us that we are talking about the dogs more closely related to wolves than to other dogs (so thats good), it finishes with the former breed (the ones we need) has more recent undomesticated ancestors than the latter breed has.

For simplicity, lets call the dogs that are from wolves domesticated more recently, Group A. The other dogs = Group B

I ruled (B) out right off the bat because of the UNDOMESTICATED. I thought that was to an inference that was to far out of scope. Next, the stem tells us that the dogs in group A come from wolves domesticated more recently than the wolves Group B is related to. But, based on this how can we infer which group has more recent undomesticated ancestors?

I don't know what I am overlooking for this not to make sense. Hopefully someone can clear this up for me. Thanks in advance!


  • kraft.phillipkraft.phillip Member Inactive Sage
    edited August 2014 444 karma
    Firstly, this is not a most strongly supported question. The question asks about the underlying principle of the argument. This is essentially a principle justify question, which is nearly the same thing as a sufficient assumption question. It's most definitely not a Most strongly supported question, but regardless of which category you throw it into, you have to find an underlying, unstated principle that is the key to the argument.

    So with an understanding of your task, examine the argument, identify the conclusion, the support, and find the gap/flaw.

    Conclusion: some dogs have wolves as more recent ancestors than other dogs.

    Reasoning/Support: some dog breeds are genetically closer to wolves than other dogs.

    The first sentence is also important insofar as it contextualizes the support I isolated above, but it doesn't really do much for the core of the argument, so focus on this reasoning.

    Flaw: the gap can be thought of simply as a term shift. The reasoning says that the GENETICS/GENES of some dogs are closer to wolves than other dogs. We don't know that genes indicate ancestry from the stimulus.

    So, evaluate your task, and prephrase an answer. What's a principle that underlies the argument? The principle seems to be that there is a connection between closeness in genes and recency in ancestry. Specifically, we are looking for something that connects these two concepts such that IF we know closeness in genes, THEN we know recency in ancestry. Notice that this mirrors the structure of the reasoning-> conclusion in the stimulus, and also that this is basically what you would do in a sufficient assumption question.

    Then, aim to eliminate answer choices that are unrelated to your prephrase.

    A) is backwards. It says IF close ancestors to wolves, then more closely related. In formal logic terms, this is a mistaken reversal.

    B) is almost exactly what we are looking for. IF closely related to wolves, THEN more recent wolf ancestors. There are two points of issue to discuss with B.

    Firstly, you say that you eliminated it because it said UNdomesticated. Perhaps this was because you were looking for a MSS answer, but you should not have done that. The stimulus is talking about the genetic and ancestral relation between wolves (which are initially undomesticated animals) that were among the first in their line of ancestry to be domesticated. Think of the chain of ancestry like this:

    1. Undomesticated, wild wolf
    2. domesticated wolf
    3. some undetermined generations of wolf procreation that are domesticated, slowly turning into just normal dogs rather than wolves
    4. dog.

    The conclusion of the stimulus is concerned with making a claim about how long the third step is for different dogs that have genes similar to wolves, some more so than others. Here's the key: (B) goes beyond this claim to state that if a dog is genetically closer to an undomesticated wolf, then they are closer ancestors than a dog that is less genetically close to to an undomesticated wolf. This entails that the the more genetically wolf like dog is also more genetically similar to the domesticated wolf, because the undomesticated is very closely related to the domesticated wolf (in fact, they probably have the same genes, since to make a domesticated wolf, you take an undomesticated wolf baby and raise it in your home). Being genetically close to one means being genetically close to the other.

    The other issue in B is that it leaves out talk of "genetics" and just talks about being closely related. This is fine, and is apparently not a concern to you anyway. It's fine because being related and being genetically related are, in common sense everyday language and understanding of those words, the exact same thing.

    C) says past domesticated wolves are more related to some modern dogs than wolves. This is irrelevant, and would actually hurt the argument because it would indicate that closeness in ancestry actually does not correlate with closeness in genetics.

    D) if one is more closely related than another, then one is more closely related to another. Read it again. That's seriously what D says. basically, D says "if A, then A." Well, duh. D literally says nothing, and therefore is not only an incorrect answer, but can never be an correct answer to anything. It doesn't introduce any new information. It doesn't even provide knowledge of what would happen in a situation, because it only says that in a specific situation, we have that specific situation. To use an example, if I say, "If I want to go to the movies, then I want to go to the movies." What do you know from that statement? Here's some stuff you might think you know, but you really don't:

    You don't know that it is the case that I want to go to the movies.

    You don't know anything about what entails from the sufficient condition, so You don't even have knowledge of what happens in the hypothetical situation that I do, in fact, want to go to the movies.

    That's it. You don't know this, or anything else for that matter, because all I have done is discuss a hypothetical situation and stated and inferred from the situation that I infer a hypothetical situation. Sorry, but that answer just bugs me. Anyway.

    E) talks about something irrelevant. two breeds of dogs that are more closely related to each other than wolves are descended from wolves. This would actually mean that all dogs are descended from wolves, because they probably are all more closely related to each other than to old wolves. Either way, it tells us nothing about how we get from genetic connection to wolves to ancestral connection to wolves.
  • chrijani7chrijani7 Alum Member
    827 karma
    Thank you! I got it now! I am not exactly sure why I kept telling myself it was MSS when the Qstem is so obvious. I wrote down the reasoning on a sheet of paper and for some reason wrote MSS and that threw me off for days. Regardless I still wasn't clear on the reasoning, but after your explanation I am fine! Thank you for the response, I appreciate it.
  • kraft.phillipkraft.phillip Member Inactive Sage
    444 karma
    Glad to have helped!
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