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can someone help me with clarifying the concept of "attacking a premise"

lawgicallawgical Alum Member

Now I'm very confused about "attacking a premise"
JY mentioned that LSAT weakening answer choices never provide plausible evidence that is incompatible with the stimulus.
However, negation, denying the relationship, is actually attacking a premise.

Did I miss something?


  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    I'm not sure what you mean by negation and denying a relationship is attacking a premise. You would use negation to check answer choices on an NA question to see if it would destroy the argument; this would imply that the answer choice is a necessary asssumption.

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Inactive ⭐
    edited February 2018 4141 karma

    Attacking the premise is like selecting an answer that says the premise is untrue. This isn’t weakening the argument, it’s denying a part of the support for the argument. Our goal with weakening is to try to cast doubt on or jeopardize the relationship between the premise and conclusion. We need to attack the link/connection and not deny a premise.
    If I argue: because all felines are natural enemies of canines, it is the case that all cats will kill any dog they come in contact with You should not attack my premise and say: it is not true that all felines are natural enemies of canines. That is just denying a premise and not addressing the argument I made. You should however attack the relationship I drew between premise and conclusion and perhaps say something like: Here is a video where that isn’t the case, which puts in question whether being natural enemies is enough to necessitate killing. That would weaken the argument. Does that help?

  • CPAtoJDCPAtoJD Member
    112 karma

    Exactly what Nessa is saying.

    Attacking the premise means simply denying that it’s true. So if your premise was “a study of 20 people showed drinking coffee in the morning made them happy” denying the premise would be saying “the study did not show that drinking coffee in the morning made them happy”. It’s directly denying it.

    Attacking the support between the premise and conclusion is introducing a reason that, given the premise still completely being true, doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion. So in the exmample that could be like attacking the sample size of the study, or showing that the 20 people are biased in some way.

    So you’re still accepting that this study showed what it says it did, but you’re weakening the argument because you’re showing that maybe it isn’t reliable or that there’s a possible alternative explanation

  • lawgicallawgical Alum Member
    46 karma

    Thanks! Now I understand what it means clearly.

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Inactive ⭐
    4141 karma

    You’re welcome!

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