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Posting on Behalf of a 7Sage User: Is there any advice on Weakening questions?

Theo - 7SageTheo - 7Sage Member Moderator Student Services

[I am posting on behalf of a 7Sage user. Please feel free to leave your comments below. Thank you for your help!]

Is there any extra advice you can give me on weakening questions? I have researched them numerous times, but on the last problem sets I feel like I have been completely guessing. One thing I have learned has been to find the assumption, and if you are told to weaken the argument then state that assumption; however, if you are to strengthen the argument, find that assumption and your answer will be the choice that states it and clarifies it so it is no longer an issue. Even with this advice, I still cannot seem to do it. Maybe I am struggling with finding the assumption? Or maybe whenever I read the questions I get overwhelmed? Regardless, weakening questions are destroying me right now and I feel helpless.


  • andrew.rsnandrew.rsn Alum Member
    831 karma

    Weakening/Strengthening questions can be tricky! but don't confuse them with Necessary/Sufficient assumption questions.

    In every weakening question your job is to read a stimulus and choose an answer choice that best weakens that argument. Every argument consists of premises and a conclusion. And in just about every situation the bridge that they are making between the premises and conclusion is shoddy at best, like it's balancing on one leg and could topple at any second. Your job is to find the Answer that at knocks away at that leg or better yet destroys the bridge entirely. Sometimes the amount your weakening the argument can be very subtle, other times its not. What you want to be looking for the AC that focuses on the connection the argument is trying to make between the premise and the conclusion and says Hell no. These are also "powerful" questions. Powerful means either the language is powerful "Always, Never, etc." or it's powerful in terms of it's focus on the connection that I mentioned earlier.

    In some questions, the answer is to find the assumption they are making and say that assumption doesn't work. In other cases it's Introducing an additional factor that they're not considering that would weaken the argument. But whatever you do, the answer is not in denying the premise, because premises are always presumed true. Instead, as I've stead, find the answer that best weakens the connection between the Premise and the Conclusion. The same is true for Strengthen questions, you're just doing the opposite - strengthen the connection.

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