The question whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is certainly imprecise, because we are not sur...

Aleksander on September 9, 2019

Explanation of Stimulus and Answer Choice

Hi, can you please help with this question? From the stimulus I reasoned that this is an argument - we cannot confine intelligent life to a single definition and if we do we will not be able to recognize it from the finite possibility. From this I can easily remove answer choices A and E. There are no examples here hence B is removed as well. What are the last characteristics to make C the incorrect answer and D the correct answer. Can you further expand on what the question is asking? I understood as - how does the stimulus (response) challenge some prior argument that we don't know?


on September 16, 2019

Hello @Aley,

You are correct in your reasoning that this is an argument. It is responding to another argument, one that we cannot see, but the question stem tells us to treat it as an "objection to an antecedent claim." This leaves us to guess at the argument, but fortunately the context makes this easy.

The previous argument must have said something along the lines of: "We should narrow our definition of intelligent life."

In the first sentence, the author acknowledges uncertainty about the nature of intelligent life. Then in the second sentence, the author counters the antecedent claim. Creating a more precise definition of intelligent life will make us blind to the possibilities, and prevent us from finding life in the universe. This matches answer choice D, which is the correct answer.

C is an attractive wrong answer, because the author does mention the imprecision and uncertainty of defining intelligent life in the first sentence. However, the author is not saying it cannot be defined. This is too strong of a conclusion to draw, as the tone is uncertain rather than definitive. The author leaves room for the possibility that, if we do find life elsewhere in the universe, we can begin to grasp what "intelligent" life means.

Cheynne on December 28, 2020

How are we to infer that doing so would be "counterproductive". Is there a filter of what we can infer and what we cannot?