Classicist: In the ancient Athenian democracy, unlike in any other political system in world history, the legislature...

Ryan on September 12 at 02:11PM

Why is D correct? Why is C incorrect?

Thanks

1 Reply

Andrea on September 24 at 03:47AM

Hi Ryan-Mahabir,

Good question! Let’s start by identifying the question type here, which is a sufficient assumption. A sufficient assumption of an argument is one that will guarantee the truth of the conclusion.

Let’s isolate our conclusion. Our correct answer choice will prove the truth of it.

Conclusion: “if the world has ever known a true democracy, it was only in ancient Athens.”

Take note of the conditional language it gives us. Let’s diagram below to be able to see it more clearly.


if the world has ever known a true democracy ——> it was in ancient Athens

if true democracy was not in ancient Athens ——> the world hasn’t ever known a true democracy before


D) A political system is not a true democracy unless the eligible voters themselves vote directly on all political decisions.

Contrapositive: if eligible voters don’t vote directly on all political decisions (which we know from the premises this has only ever been the case in Athens) ——> then a political system is not a true democracy.

So in other words, this answer choice tells us that if there ever was a true democracy, it could only have been Athens. Take note it does not tell us that Athens was a true democracy. It only tells us that no other political system in the world except Athens could have been one. This is because only in Athens did the eligible voters themselves vote directly on all political decisions (first and second premises).

However, because our conclusion is itself conditional, we don’t have to actually prove that Athens was a true democracy. We only have to prove that if there ever was a true democracy, it was only in Athens. Which answer choice D does for us.


C) Athens was the only city in ancient Greece that had a democratic political system.

This doesn’t cover all our bases.

First off, this doesn’t cover the rest of the world and doesn’t cover the rest time that political systems have existed. We need an answer choice that rules out all other political systems to have existed in order to prove our conclusion that only Athens has the potential to be a true democracy. What about America in 2019? What about Canada in 1950?

Second, as said above, we need to prove that if there was a true democracy, it was Athens. We are not trying to actually prove that Athens was a true democracy, because that’s not what the conclusion is claiming.

Hope this helps!