According to a theory embraced by some contemporary musicians, music is simply a series of sounds, bereft of meaning....

on November 27 at 12:07AM

Can someone please explain why the answer is E?

Hi, I had a hard time understanding this argument. Why is the answer E?

2 Replies

Ben on November 27 at 04:54PM

Hi Lerondagates, thanks for the question!

This is a sufficient assumption question, meaning that we need to choose the answer choice that will guarantee the conclusion is correct.

The conclusion in this case is that the musicians, who contend that music has no meaning and preface their music with an explanation, play music that does not conform to their theory.

Answer choice E states: "Musicians whose music has no meaning do not preface their performances with explanations of their intentions".

If we take this as the unstated premise for this argument, then the music played by these musicians would actually have meaning. Otherwise they wouldn't preface it with an explanation. This is why their music is incompatible with their theory.

I hope this helped, please let me know if you have any other questions.

Irina on November 27 at 05:00PM

@lerondagates,

This is a sufficient assumption question, thus the correct answer will guarantee the conclusion when combined with the statements in the stimulus.

Let's look at the argument in the stimulus.

(1) Some musicians have a theory that music is simply a series of sounds, bereft of meaning.
(2) Because they understand that their theory is nonconformist, they encourage audience acceptance by prefacing their performance with explanations of their intention.
(3) Therefore, even their own music fails to conform to their theory.

To conclude that even their own music fails to conform to their theory that music is bereft of meaning, we need to assume that their music has meaning. Thus, we need to connect premise (2) that they preface the performance with explanations with another fact that would enable us to conclude that their music has meaning.

preface with explanations + ? = music has meaning
music has meaning + theory that music has no meaning = music fails to conform to the theory

(E) tells us that musicians whose music has no meaning do not preface their performances with explanations. In other words, we can understand this statement as:

~ meaning -> ~ explanation

the contrapositive of this statement is:

explanation -> meaning

Thus, this conditional statement is sufficient to guarantee the conclusion when combined with the rest of the premises, resulting in the following argument

(1) no meaning theory
(2) explanation
(3) explanation -> meaning
(4) meaning <- inference from (2) and (3)
(5) therefore, fail to conform to the theory.

Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any other questions.