Ethicist: Only when we know a lot about the events that led to an action are we justified in praising or blaming a pe...

Jason on November 17 at 03:58AM

Explanation

Can I get an explanation for this one?

2 Replies

Annie on November 19 at 05:41PM

Hi @JasonD,

This question is asking you to find the assumption that is buried in the argument. Essentially, you are looking for the answer choice that must be true in order for the conclusion to be correct. Let's start by breaking down the argument:

Premise: We are only justified in praising/blaming a person for an action when we know a lot about the events that led to it.
Conclusion: We must reject Tolstoy's claim that if we knew a lot about the events before an action we wouldn't think that action was freely performed.

As you can see, the premise and the conclusion are only tangentially connected. So, you're looking for an answer choice to fill that gap.

Answer Choices:
(A) is incorrect. Neither the premise nor conclusion mention "conditions beyond their control" or a similar idea. Therefore, this answer choice doesn't fill the gap.

(B) is incorrect. This answer choice focuses on "responsibility" but this concept isn't mentioned in the argument.

(C) is correct. This answer choice connects the premise and the conclusion. It connects the idea from the premise- that we can are only justified in praising/blaming a person in certain circumstances- with the idea from conclusion- that we should reject Tolstoy's idea about freely performed events- by stating that you can only praise/blame when we think an action is freely performed.

(D) is incorrect. This answer choice also focuses on "responsibility" when it is not at issue in the argument. Additionally, this answer choice has no tie to the conclusion above.

(E) is incorrect. This answer choice fails to connect the premise and the conclusion. It does not tell us anything about whether we can praise/blame a person for their actions.

Jason on November 19 at 06:24PM

Thank you, very helpful!