One can never tell whether another person is acting from an ulterior motive; therefore, it is impossible to tell whet...

Sean on August 9, 2018

PT 50, S2, Q12

I don't understand where intention comes from and why A is the correct answer. Can you explain please? Thank you!

3 Replies

Anita on August 9, 2018

@smilde11 We’re told that people may act with an ulterior motive, so we can’t look at morality, just consequences. However, there’s a gap in logic: what does an ulterior motive (or, a person’s intentions) have to do with morality? We’re looking for a principle that helps bridge that gap.

A tells us an intention is indispensable to the morality of an action. This helps connect intention/motive to morality. It definitely helps, then, with the conclusion.

Does that help?

Sean on October 18 at 08:45PM

I'm sorry, but I'm still not getting it. I don't know why.

Mehran on October 20 at 11:35PM

Fear not, @smilde11, this is definitely tricky. Let's try to break down the stimulus step by step.

This stimulus presents an argument. Here are the pieces:
Premise: One can never tell whether another person is acting from an ulterior motive. [In plain English: we can't know why people do what they do, or what their intentions are in acting a certain way]
Subsidiary conclusion: Therefore, it is impossible to tell whether someone's action is moral. [Notice that there is a logical leap between the first premise and this subsidiary conclusion. The first premise says we can't know why people do what they do; this subsidiary conclusion says that as a result we can't tell whether an action is moral. But intention is not the same as morality, so why are the two things being conflated?]
Conclusion: So, one should evaluate the consequences of an action rather than its morality.

We are asked in the question stem to identify a principle (a general rule) that would strengthen the argument in the stimulus. We have identified a gap in the reasoning, and so to strengthen the argument we should try to fill that gap.

Answer choice (A) does this. It links the intention (motivation) of an action with the concept of morality.

Hope this helps! Best of luck.