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Question
QuickView
Choices
Curve Question
Difficulty
Psg/Game/S
Difficulty
Explanation
PT90 S4 Q18
+LR
Flaw or descriptive weakening +Flaw
A
5%
153
B
67%
163
C
2%
149
D
23%
157
E
4%
149
143
153
163
+Harder 148.293 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Flaw/Descriptive Weakening question.

Lindsey says several people claim that our company was unfair when it failed to give bonuses to the staff. She suggests that perhaps they recalled that the company had promised that if it increased its profits over last year’s, the staff would all get bonuses. However, the company's profit was much smaller this year than it was last year. And the conclusion is that clearly, then, the company acted fairly.

Did the company act fairly? Well, the company promised that if profits increased, staff would get bonuses. Profits did not increase, so that promise just falls away. Sufficient failed, rule disappears.  So what is clear is that the company did not contradict this promise. But that doesn't mean the company acted fairly. That's a much broader claim.

Let’s also look at why people are claiming that the company acted unfairly. Lindsey suggests that they are claiming this because of the promise above. Okay, if that's the case, then they do not have a good claim since the company did not contradict this promise. But if they are claiming that the company acted unfairly for some other reason, then Lindsey is now the one making a flawed argument. The fact is we actually don't know why they are claiming that the company acted unfairly. If you spotted this, you can go hunting for the right answer choice. If not, you can use the process of elimination.

Correct Answer Choice (B) says the argument infers (conclusion descriptor) that an opinion is false merely because (premise descriptor) one potential reason for that opinion has been undermined. Exactly. Lindsey does successfully undermine a potential reason in her premises, but we do not know if people are claiming the company was unfair for that specific reason. That's why Lindsey's inference that the people's opinion is false (that the company didn't act unfairly) is flawed.

Answer Choice (A) says the argument relies on the opinions of certain unnamed people without establishing that those people were well informed on the matter. Sure, people are unnamed here, but Lindsey is not relying on their opinion to make her argument. If anything, she is contesting their opinion. Establishing that those people were well informed on the matter would be important only if Lindsey were trying to make an appeal to those people's authority, like if those people were subject matter experts.

An argument guilty of (A) would look something like the following. The company promised that if profits increased, staff would get bonuses. However, some people told me that profits did not increase. Note how this is different from Lindsey stating that the company’s profit did not increase as a fact. In the former case, it was merely an opinion of some unnamed people, and so to take that opinion as establishing the fact of the matter, we need to know who they were. Like if the CFO told her this, then it's more likely to be true. But if it was just some random employee, then we might be skeptical.

Answer Choice (C) says the argument dismisses (conclusion descriptor) a claim on the basis of (premise descriptor) certain irrelevant attributes of the people who made the claim. While the argument does dismiss the claim that the company acted unfairly, its premise does not say that these people have certain irrelevant attributes.

Here is an example guilty of (C)'s description. "We should pay no attention to the people claiming that the company acted unfairly. This is obvious when you consider that they wore red hats." This would be dismissing a claim on the basis of irrelevant attributes of the people making the claim. That's a specific version of attacking the source of the argument.

Answer Choice (D) says the argument confuses the size of a quantity with the amount by which that quantity has increased. What does this even mean? Say the size of a quantity is a hundred units. But it was originally thirty units. So it increased by seventy units. So I am confusing the hundred units with the seventy-unit increase? How is that even relevant to Lindsey's argument?

I think (D) attempts to lure you in simply by mentioning "quantity" and "increase" and the stimulus said something about profits being larger or smaller.

(D) might be more relevant if we made some major modifications to the stimulus. The sufficient condition in the promise was straight up failed because the company’s profit this year being smaller than last year's means that the company's profits did not increase. But let's change that. The edited promise reads "If the company had any profits at all this year, the staff would get bonuses." And we'll keep the facts the same: the company's profit was much smaller this year than it was last year.

Still a bit of a stretch, but this makes (D) a bit more relevant. Under this modified stimulus, the sufficient condition is triggered by the facts because even if the company’s profits decreased this year, the company still has positive profits. The comparison to last year's profits isn't relevant. And if Lindsey argues that the sufficient condition wasn't met, then she may be confusing a comparative quantity (this year's smaller profit versus last year's larger profit) with an absolute quantity (that there was any positive profit at all).

Answer Choice (E) says the argument overlooks the possibility that a policy can be fair even when it is not generous. I guess Lindsey overlooked this, but so what? (E) would be relevant if people claimed the company was not generous and Lindsey responded that the company was fair. But no such confusion takes place.