Essayist: Only happiness is intrinsically valuable; other things are valuable only insofar as they contribute to h...

Sean on June 13, 2018

Please explain.

I don't understand why C is the correct answer. Could you please break it down for me? Thank you!

2 Replies

Christopher on June 15, 2018

@smilde11, this is an argument completion question, so whatever fills in the blank at the end must support the overall conclusion. In this case the conclusion is very direct. "Only happiness is intrinsically valuable."

Most of the question is questioning whether that conclusion is accurate and proposing a possible exception to the rule "we don't approve of bad people being happy," but the essayist ends with a "but, therefore" which suggests he or she has an explanation that overcomes the objections. The "but" that the essayist suggests is that we can logically determine how much happiness a person deserves by how much happiness that person brings to others. So a bad person who makes everyone around them miserable does not deserve to be happy, and we can judge them in those terms because the aggregate of the happiness they bring to others is so low. That being the case, the essayist finishes with a "therefore___," and you have to fill it in, so let's look at the answers.

(A) the essayist doesn't dismiss the argument that people can deserve happiness. In fact, he or she actually gives a mechanism to do it, so this doesn't follow.

(B) this doesn't fit with anything else in the argument and runs counter to the whole point of the passage.

(C) this describes the concept that the essayist just put forward and supports the conclusion. Saying that you can judge how much a person deserves to be happy by how much happiness they bring to others is to say that "the judgment that a person deserves to be happy is itself to be understood in terms of happiness."

(D) the essayist never talks about becoming happy through bringing happiness, only that those who bring happiness to others are more deserving to be happy.

(E) this is a similar dismissal of the argument to (B) which is not what the essayist does. The essayist doesn't dismiss the objection to his or her argument but rather attempts to explain how the objection isn't actually an objection.

Does that help?

Sean on July 26 at 11:12AM

Thank you!