Historian: Those who claim that Shakespeare did not write the plays commonly attributed to him are motivated purely b...

Jacob on October 31, 2017


Can you please explain the correct answer

5 Replies

Will on May 21, 2019

Can we get this question answered? I can't tell why A and B are incorrect and D is correct.

Ravi on May 22, 2019

@JayDee8732 and @wills,

Happy to help. Let's take a look at (A), (B), and (D).

The question reads, "The reasoning in the historian's argument is most
vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that the argument..."

(A) says, "presumes, without providing justification, that a claim
cannot be true if those who advance it are motivated by snobbery"

The problem with (A) is that the author does not say for certain that
the claims that are doubting Shakespeare are false; rather, the
author's conclusion is simply about their motivations, so we can get
rid of this choice.

(B) says, "takes for granted that anyone who is motivated purely by
snobbery cannot also be motivated by legitimate historical evidence"

The problem with (B) is that the assumption that it talks about is
minor, and it's not even a flawed assumption to make. "Purely" just
means the same thing as "only," so if those people were motivated
purely by snobbery, then it's not possible they could have been
motivated by anything else. Additionally, the fact that these critics
of Shakespeare are motivated purely by snobbery is the conclusion that
the author attempts—but fails—to establish, and (B) discusses this as
if it's a premise of the argument, which it isn't. Thus, we can get
rid of (B).

(D) says, "fails to exclude the possibility that there might be
legitimate evidence motivating those who reject Shakespeare's

(D) is just what we need. Although the people are aristocrats, it's
possible that they could be motivated by real evidence instead of only
their snobbery. Additionally, perhaps both real evidence and snobbery
are factors in their motivation. At any rate, it's not necessarily
just snobbery.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!

on July 28 at 02:33AM

But doesn't the author *exclude* the possibility of real evidence when they say the people are motivated *purely* by snobbery? So he didn't fail to exclude this possibility.

Was it supposed to say include? Or am I reading this wrong?

Irina on July 28 at 09:17PM


It is a statement that weakens the argument, the fact that the author fails to exclude the possibility that there are other motives aside from snobbery is a flaw in the argument, that is why this is the correct answer choice.

Hunter on June 10 at 04:47PM

I got this question correct, but am still confused by the phrase "fails to exclude". Doesn't that phrase just mean does not exclude, which just translates to includes? So the author *includes* "the possibility possibility that there might be legitimate evidence motivating those who reject Shakespeare's authorship", which is what makes this the correct answer? Is that correct? If it is a correct interpretation of the phrase 'fails to exclude', doesn't the author 'exclude' this possibility by claiming that these people are only/'purely' motivated by their snobbery?