PT F97.S3.Q18 - new record has been set for the number of murders committed

emmorensemmorens Core Member
edited November 2021 in Logical Reasoning 1470 karma

Could someone help me understand how AC E counters the city officials response?

On another note, I have a tendency to want to set off either the sufficient condition, or contrapose the necessary for 'if' statements in order to prove that they will work, but is that even required for a weaken question or is the 'if' possibility of an idea taking place enough to weaken an argument?


Admin Note: Edited title. Please use the format: "PT#.S#.Q# - brief description of the question"


  • mesposito886mesposito886 Member
    254 karma

    I think there's a typo in your title - what test is this?

  • emmorensemmorens Core Member
    1470 karma

    @mesposito886 It's from PT Fall 97 Section 3 Question 19!

  • pd288-1pd288-1 Member
    edited November 2021 16 karma

    A) Talking about murder, fraud has nothing to do w/ murder, so this answer is irrelevant
    C)If murders are more likely to be reported now, and murders have fallen, then murder rates have decreased even more than the city is reporting (supports their argument)
    E) This shows that the murder rate has fallen because of healthcare improvements, not because of a fall in violent crime.
    I think you're overthinking this.

  • mesposito886mesposito886 Member
    254 karma

    @pd288 said:
    A) Talking about murder, fraud has nothing to do w/ murder, so this answer is irrelevant
    C)If murders are more likely to be reported now, and murders have fallen, then murder rates have decreased even more than the city is reporting (supports their argument)
    E) This shows that the murder rate has fallen because of healthcare improvements, not because of a fall in violent crime.
    I think you're overthinking this.

    I think they meant answer choice E, not just answer choices A, C, and E lol

  • mesposito886mesposito886 Member
    254 karma

    I agree with @pd288 on why answer choices A and C are incorrect and E is correct. The stimulus in this question is actually very tricky. Unlike in some other questions involving two speakers where JY might instruct you to focus only on the speaker who the question stem is about, this one really requires that you understand what both the official and the citizen are saying.

    Citizen: Every year since 1970 there's been a new record set for number of murders, which shows law enforcement's decreasing ability to prevent violent crime.

    City official: The city's population has risen since 1970, and the number of murder victims per 100 has actually fallen since 1970.

    I think this question wants us to recognize that by offering those statistics, the city official is suggesting that the citizen's conclusion - that law enforcement has gotten worse at preventing violent crime - is wrong. The correct answer choice is the one that argues for the citizen's conclusion by giving an alternative explanation of why the number of murder victims per 100 people has decreased if law enforcement has gotten worse at preventing violent crime. Answer choice E does exactly that - by explaining that law enforcement hasn't prevented violent crime from happening, but that improvements in healthcare has lowered the rate by saving victims who would've otherwise died.

    Reasons why B and D are incorrect:

    B. Describes the pattern in which murders decreased since 1970. This is irrelevant; we're actually talking about what the decrease says about law enforcement, not about what the decrease looked like.

    D. If the number of law enforcement officials has increased to a number sufficient to serve the city, and the murder rate has fallen, then this would actually suggest that the decrease may be due to law enforcement preventing violent crime.

  • Clemens_Clemens_ Live Member
    edited April 20 216 karma

    PTF97.S3.Q18 – Murder Rate vs. Population Growth

    This is a weaken question where we are supposed to assume the perspective of one of two interlocutors who seeks to weaken the other’s argument.

    The first participant in the discussion is a citizen who points out that the total number of murders in a given city has been increasing each year since 1970. The citizen uses this premise to establish the conclusion that the ability of the city’s law enforcement system to prevent violent crime is decreasing, i.e. getting worse.

    The second interlocutor is a city official who tries to relativize the citizen’s claims by introducing additional information: Like to total number of murders, the city’s population has been increasing since 1970, supposedly more so than this number of murders: Compared to 1970, the number of murders relative to 100 citizens actually is supposed to have decreased. If we take this to be a causal claim, this suggests: The city's work in crime prevention actually has gotten better.

    At first glance, the city official seems to have the upper hand, for at least two reasons: (1) The citizen’s premise does not warrant their conclusion: The mere fact that MURDERS are rising does not also indicate the conclusion that VIOLENT CRIME generally is rising; i.e. the citizen is making an unwarranted claim about a broader domain (violent crime) based on an observation concerning only one kind of member of this domain (murders). (2) Even if the citizen’s induction were valid, it only works if other factors remain equal. If the total population increased more than the murders, for example, this would suggest that this kind of violent crime has become less of an issue, as the city official implies.

    Nevertheless, we are supposed to assume the citizen’s perspective, and we are supposed to make their position stronger. Arguably, one way to do so would be to show that violent crimes other than murder have gotten worse, regardless of how the number of murders developed. This could rectify the inductive flaw that the citizen originally made in their argument. Alternatively, the citizen could get at the issue of numbers vs. proportions somehow. Perhaps the city’s resources changed in a way that murders should have ceased altogether? In either case the city’s crime prevention abilities have to be at the center of the discussion; this is what the citizen’s original argument targeted in its conclusion.

    (A) Fraud increased, but this is not a violent crime. Had the answer choice said e.g. ‘Batteries increased’ or pointed towards an increase in some other type of violent crime, this arguably would have helped / gotten at the first anticipated rebuttal. As it stands, however, this answer choice moves outside the domain that the argument is considering, and thus it does not serve as a good weakening answer.
    (B) The average age of murder victims changed, but this seems unrelated to the argument / neither weakens nor strengthens. Certainly one would have to make all kinds of additional assumptions to make this work as a weakening answer.
    (C) Murders and violent crime generally are more likely to be reported now than they were in the past. This actually weakens the citizen’s view / strengthens the official. This answer choice says: Not only is the city now preventing more murders per 100 citizens, it also is doing so despite an increased tendency for murders to get reported. This thus does the opposite of what we are trying to do.
    (D) The number of law enforcement personnel has increased to an extent that should suffice to prevent murders adequately. This arguably weakens to the extent that the citizen could accuse the city of not having brought about a strong enough reduction in murders. That is, the citizen would seem to be saying: ‘The city actually did succeed to reduce murders. Nevertheless, the city should have succeeded even more, in light of the resources that have become available.’ So arguably this weakens a little bit, but it is not super strong. In the scenario presented here, the citizen would not be denying that the city made progress, they would just claim that the progress has not been as substantial as it could have been.
    (E) This answer choice is tricky, but it is the right one: Here, the citizen introduces an alternative explanation as to why the city’s murder rate decreased. In the city official’s argument, it seemed as if this decrease was due to the good crime prevention that city has done. However, here we get an alternative cause: Medical services improved, such that less people die from violent crimes. This is a subtle but effective way to decrease the murder rate: If violent crime persists or gets worse, but if the number of victims of violent crimes who die decreases, we effectively do get a decrease in the murder rate, even if violent crime actually skyrockets. This is good and, if true, totally wrecks the city official’s argument: It is not the city’s crime prevention that has improved. Rather, the cause of the decreased murder rate is an improved ability to treat crime victims medically after the fact.

    Takeaways: Really pay attention to the scope of the argument. What are the premises and conclusion about? What is the relation between subsets like murders and supersets like violent crimey? Which set is larger / how do they relate to another? What kind of inferences does partial evidence like the one about murders allow one to draw? Furthermore, consider the classic options to weaken causal claims: (1) Reverse causation, (2) Additional third factor, (3) Mere correlation. Here, we get an additional third factor that explains the murder rate decrease: The cause of these decreases is not effective crime prevention but better medical treatment.

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