Counselor: Those who believe that criticism should be gentle rather than harsh should consider the following: chang...

Lauren on August 21, 2019

Please Help!

@lsatmax I'm sort of confused between why answer choice (A) is correct and answer choice (C) is incorrect. I think i might have a slight grasp on it but I'm still a bit confused and need some clarity. Is it because harsh criticism (which is sufficient for providing a motive) is used in the argument's conclusion as being necessary to bring about motive when in actuality having harsh criticism does not necessarily mean than you automatically have motive and therefore cannot draw the conclusion that harsh criticism will cause the person criticized to change?

2 Replies

Shunhe on December 28, 2019

Hi @Lauren-Au,

We're looking for a flaw in the reasoning here, so let's figure out what's being said. We know that change needs a motive, and unpleasant criticism provides a motive. We also know that harsh criticism is unpleasant, and thus, it provides a motive. We conclude that only harsh criticism will cause the person criticized to change. What should we be concluding from the premises though? Well, to write it out in conditional logic form, we have:

Harsh criticism - > Unpleasant criticism - > Motive

But the first premise tells us that change requires a motive; in other words, change - > motive. But this is the opposite of what we need, which is motive - > change. In addition, even if we had motive - > change, then we'd have harsh criticism - > change. But what we conclude is change - > harsh criticism. In other words, we are mixing up our sufficient and necessary conditions, and this is what (A) tells us.

(C) is wrong because the author isn't assuming that all those who are motivated will change, since the stimulus tells us that change - > motive, whereas (C) would be diagrammed as motive - > change. Hope this helps, feel free to ask further questions because this one is a tricky one.

Ravi on September 2 at 07:12AM


Let's take a look at the argument.

The counselor's premises tell us that harsh criticism is sufficient to
get people to make changes. He then attempts to conclude that harsh
criticism is necessary in order to cause change.

Spot the flaw? There could be other ways to cause change! The
counselor is confusing necessary and sufficient conditions.

This is why (A) is correct. It's highlighting the fact that just
because criticism is sufficient to cause change doesn't mean it's also