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The "Just Because" Test: A framework for Evaluating Arguments

Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member

The vast majority of LR questions turn on your ability to see the gap between premise and conclusion. If you can understand why the premise is good or bad support for the conclusion, the question type becomes trivial and the answer choices fall into your lap. Evaluating an LR stimulus is similar to LG -- do the work up front and you will be rewarded. This post will discuss a way of thinking about arguments that may help you to better evaluate them.

The idea is pretty simple. First, identify the premise and conclusion. Then ask yourself : Just because premise... does conclusion HAVE to be true?

Example: It is a very sunny day outside. JT's ice cream shoppe will be busy.

Just because it is sunny out, does JT's ice cream HAVE to be busy?

Well probably not...

What if JT's ice cream sells god awful product?
What if JT's is in the middle of a desert and no customers are even close to it?
What if it is sooo sunny out that people are too hot to leave their homes?

This test helps to expose why the premise isn't really great support for the conclusion. This is the first step in LR success. If you can consciously figure out why an argument isn't great, you take active control of the question. This makes you less vulnerable to traps and more likely to pick the credited AC.

It sounds trivial, but LR is as simple as thinking about why premises do or do not support conclusions. The difficulty lies in slowing down, understanding what the words are really saying, and putting the gap in your own terms. Hopefully the "Just Because" framework can help make this easier!

Comments

  • omw2_95th_percentileomw2_95th_percentile Monthly Member
    83 karma

    Quality post.

  • FindingSageFindingSage Alum Member
    2042 karma

    This is a great post! I use a similiar method for approaching arguments except I use the "But what if..." I approach all questions that contain an argument this way, even strengthen and necessary assumption questions. For strengthen questions I make this objection so that I first try to weaken the argument and in strengthening it I am looking for the strongest way to block where the argument is weak. For NA questions making this objection then allows you to block the objection in the weakest way that still allows the argument to stand.
    I am curious if you used this approach as broadly as I do or only for question types like weaken?

  • Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
    2793 karma

    @FindingSage said:
    This is a great post! I use a similiar method for approaching arguments except I use the "But what if..." I approach all questions that contain an argument this way, even strengthen and necessary assumption questions. For strengthen questions I make this objection so that I first try to weaken the argument and in strengthening it I am looking for the strongest way to block where the argument is weak. For NA questions making this objection then allows you to block the objection in the weakest way that still allows the argument to stand.
    I am curious if you used this approach as broadly as I do or only for question types like weaken?

    I agree that your method is equally serviceable and a great way to think of it! Ellen Cassidy refers to it as the "Loophole". Anyways, yes I do think that both methods can be applied broadly for any question type involving an argument. This is because our job is simply to understand and articulate why an argument is invalid, and then either make it better, worse, or simply call it out (flaw questions). A drill that is useful is to take a question involving an argument and then find ways to strengthen/weaken/call out flaw/ identify PSA,SA, and NA. You will begin to see that seeing the gap between premise and conclusion is always the necessary first step!

  • FindingSageFindingSage Alum Member
    2042 karma

    @"Lucas Carter", I did read the Loophole and then kind of combined what I have learned with 7Sage and the Loophole and do my own thing. Approaching like you are suggesting made me realize that my issue wasn't question type. In fact I haven't drilled question types in months. My issue was in learning to read and activley translate the stimulus and then see the gap as you are referring to. I also enjoy taking stimulus's and making them into different question types, it really made me see the relation of all the question types and being able to predict the gap consistently based on structure. So for example, if I see a strong conclusion like this is the only way that blah blah I know I can weaken the argument simply by introducing possiblity, or I can make strengthen or NA question by blocking that possiblity. You do a great job breaking down how to approach LR with your posts!

  • TrustTheProcess-1TrustTheProcess-1 Alum Member
    16 karma

    This is such a great post! Thanks for sharing your approach. Looking forward to playing with this a bit on my next PT.

  • MarkmarkMarkmark Alum Member
    976 karma

    @"Lucas Carter"

    Great post thank you!

  • MarkmarkMarkmark Alum Member
    976 karma

    @FindingSage said:
    This is a great post! I use a similiar method for approaching arguments except I use the "But what if..." I approach all questions that contain an argument this way, even strengthen and necessary assumption questions. For strengthen questions I make this objection so that I first try to weaken the argument and in strengthening it I am looking for the strongest way to block where the argument is weak. For NA questions making this objection then allows you to block the objection in the weakest way that still allows the argument to stand.
    I am curious if you used this approach as broadly as I do or only for question types like weaken?

    Good info thanks for the post!

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