Archaeologists are discovering a great deal about the Sals culture. For example, recent excavations have unearthed sm...

on November 7, 2018

Between A and E

Why is it answer A over choice E? The answers are just switched and I wasn't sure which one to choose.

2 Replies

on November 7, 2018

my bad I meant why is the answer choice E over A. Thank you for any help!

Mehran on November 10, 2018

Hi @Anna, thanks for your post. This stimulus presents an argument; the conclusion is "the Sals did not smelt iron." (The word "thus" often introduces a conclusion or a subsidiary conclusion.) What premises are provided in support of this claim? (1) recent excavations have unearthed smelting furnaces and tools of smelted copper and bronze, and (2) there were distinct Sals words for copper and for bronze, but none for iron.

The question stem is a Strengthen with Sufficient Premise question; we are asked to select the answer that is the missing premise sufficient to guarantee the conclusion. This is answer choice (E), which says that if a culture smelted a metal (shorthand for diagram: CSM), then it had a distinct word for that metal (shorthand: DWM). Written out: CSM ==> DWM. Contrapositive: not DWM ==> not CSM (if no distinct word for metal, then culture did not smelt the metal). We are told in premise (2) that the Sals did not have a distinct word for the metal iron (not DWM). We can thus conclude that the Sals did not smelt that metal (iron). Answer choice (E) is thus sufficient to guarantee the conclusion in the stimulus.

Answer choice (A) is an incorrect reversal of what we are looking for. It says that if a culture had a distinct word for a metal (DWM) then it smelted that metal (CSM). Diagrammed: DWM ==> CSM. The contrapositive would be: not CSM ==> not DWM. Neither of the given premises are about not smelting the metal iron (that concept appears in the conclusion of the argument, not the premises). The fact that a metal is not smelt is not sufficient to tell us anything more. Thus, (A) is not the correct answer on this Strengthen with Sufficient Premise question.

Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any additional questions.