Archaeologist: The earliest evidence of controlled fire use in Europe dates to just 400,000 years ago. This casts dou...

Grace on November 18, 2018

Why is the answer E?

How does negating to, “There were no humans inhabiting Europe prior to 400,000 years ago” make the argument fall apart?

3 Replies

Jacob on November 18 at 05:20PM

Hi @Glee

I’m happy to help. As always, make sure that you focus on the exact thing that the question is asking. Notice that the question stem asks:

“What is an assumption required by the argument?”

Therefore, we are not looking for an answer that makes the argument fall apart, as you asked — we are looking for an assumption on which the argument relies.

We know that the argument has a premise: the earliest evidence of controlled fire in Europe is from 400k years ago. And then there is a conclusion: this casts doubt on the view that mastery of fire was a necessary prerequisite for humans’ migration there.

Why does that premise cast doubt on the fact that mastery of fire was a prerequisite? Answer E provides that answer: because the argument assumes that there were humans in Europe prior to 400k years ago (and thus also prior to the earliest evidence of controlled fire use there.)

I hope that helps! Please let us know if you have further questions.

Grace on November 26 at 04:19AM

Hi Jacob! Thanks for the explanation. But I thought to tackle strengthen-necessary questions the strategy is to negate it, and see which negation makes the argument fall apart?

Jacob on December 1 at 08:13PM

No problem! And I think I now understand what you were originally asking. You are completely correct that one should negate to test the argument’s reliance on the assumption.

Let’s do that here. Remember, the argument by the Archaeologist is that the earliest evidence of controlled fire being 400k years ago casts doubt on the view that mastery of fire was a necessary prerequisite for human migration.

If we assume that there were no humans inhabiting Europe prior to 400k years ago, then how could evidence of controlled fire 400k years ago cast doubt on fire being a necessary prerequisite for human migration? If anything, it would seem to support that commonly held view! I.e., there were no humans prior to 400k years ago, then there was evidence of controlled fire, and then (perhaps) humans migrated there — so perhaps mastery of fire is a necessary prerequisite!

I hope that helps! Thank you for following up @Glee.