Which one of the following is given by the passage as a reason for the difficulty a lawyer would have in determining ...

Mazen on April 9, 2020

Please help with example 4, choice D

Hello, To help you help me: my question is predicated on the assumption that I am correct in treating "neither/nor" statements as compound statement, so "and" but in the negative. And that "either/or" statements are not compound statements. With that being said-- Choice D states: "No one is either wise or intelligent." Is it correct if I treat the negation of an "either/or" statement as a compound statement; so "and" but in the negative. Meaning, can I treat it synonymously to the following statement: no one can be both wise "and" intelligent? If I can, then I can diagram it (i.e. answer choice D) as a premise, rather than as a principle: Not Wise and Not Intelligent (~W&~I). If yes, then D is he correct answer because it contradicts the information sets forth in the passage, which is "In [the essayist's] own experience, the people [she/he] meets must be either wise or intelligent, but not both." While we are on the subject of compound statements, "neither/nor" statements are compound statements, and they negate "either/or" statements. Am I correct? If so, as opposed to rephrasing D as I did above -- in the form of "no one is both wise and intelligent," -- can I instead rephrase D as follows: everyone is neither wise nor intelligent; and treat it as a premise rather than a sufficient-necessary principle thereby diagramming it consistently as I did above: Not Wise and Not Intelligent (~W&~I)? Finally, When I rewrote answer choice D in the "neither/nor" form I replaced D's "no one" with "everyone." I did not rewrite it as "someone" because I am trying to hold the meaning of the statement, and not disprove it. In other words, I know that all it takes for disproving "everyone," or "no one," or "each" statements is to find at least one case/person, so "someone." However, in the case of answer choice D -- "No one is either wise or intelligent" -- I am rephrasing it in terms of "neither/nor," I am not negating it to disprove it. This last part is making me nervous, because I know that only one case/instance/ is required to negate an absolute statement. And yet I feel that this case falls outside the parameters of this rule. It is not clear in my mind why that is?? Please help

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BenMingov on April 9, 2020

Hi Mazen,

For some reason when I am clicking "view", I cannot find the question you are referring to. However, I did a keyword search based on the answer choices you brought up and see that it is likely PT 25, LR2, Q16. Please let me know if that's right. This way both you and I are on the same page and then students who visit this post later on as well.

Saying that "No one is either wise or intelligent" is simply an odd way to say "if person, then neither wise nor intelligent". So it is not so much that they can't be wise AND intelligent, but that they cannot be either of those things.

Based on what you have written, I feel that your understand of this formation "no one is either..." is correct. You simply converted it to a neither/nor.

Your discussion or neither/nor being the negated version of either/or is something I am not used to, and I am not so sure it is fully correct. The way I see these formations is separate.

E.g. Either John or Bill will hit a home run

Not JHR -> BHR
Not BHR -> JHR

E.g. Neither Bill nor John will hit a home run

This is not a full condition in and of itself. But you can just think of it as Not BHR AND Not JHR.

D is correct for the reason that you mentioned. If the person did meet people who were wise or intelligent but not both, then it is impossible that everyone is neither wise nor intelligent.

I hope this was helpful and clear. Please let me know if you'd like me to elaborate more on some part of this.

Mazen on April 9, 2020

Ben, example 4 is in the lecture on cannot be true. I am trying to reread your explanation. I'll post another reply to confirm to you the degree of my understanding of your explanation.

Mazen on April 9, 2020

Hello Ben,

First, thank you for responding expeditiously. Much appreciated!

Second, this stimulus is example 4 of the lecture on "cannot be true" questions by Mehran. And answer choice D is: "No one can either be wise or intelligent."

I carefully read your explanation:

"Saying that 'No one is either wise or intelligent' is simply an odd way to say 'if person, then neither wise nor intelligent'. So it is not so much that they can't be wise AND intelligent, but that they cannot be either of those things."

I understand the part: that we can restate D as "if a person exists, then this person can neither be wise nor intelligent."

However, from that part, with which I agree, you deduce "[s]o it is not so much that they can't be wise AND intelligent, but that they cannot be either of those things."

A person that cannot be either wise or intelligent is ipso facto a person that cannot be both wise and intelligent. It is an a priori deduction. Am I missing something?

The essayist states that the people, he/she meets, are either wise or intelligent but not both.

From the statement -- the people the essayist meets are either wise or intelligent -- we conclude: that it is necessary that one of the characteristics, wise or intelligent, describes those people; and from the phrase -- but not both -- we conclude that intelligence and wisdom are mutually exclusive when it comes to describing the people the essayists met.

In other words, in the essayist's universe, the people must be either intelligent or wise, and that intelligence and wisdom are mutually exclusive, "hence not both."

We are looking for the question that cannot be true.

(By the way, this whole stimulus turns on the last sentence. The last sentence of the stimulus by the essayist is "[i]n my own experience, the people I meet have one or the other of these qualities [wisdom or intelligence] but not both." I hope you have access to the lecture "cannot be true questions.")

Answer choice D states: "No one can either be wise or intelligent." I am saying this is a compound statement. It is not a conditional. It is a statement of fact that contradicts the facts (specifically, the last sentence of the passage, the "either/or") in the stimulus.

Now concerning the discussion on "neither/nor," first, if you may, would you please help me with the following questions:

Isn't D as stated in the answer choice a compound statement?

It (i.e. answer choice D) is not a conditional despite its usage of the "either/or" terminology, because it is negated "[n]o one." Yes, though we can diagram it in the conditional form, it is not imperative that we do. Is this correct?

Finally, aside from the stimulus, if we are asked to restate a negative statement that expressed in "either/or" statement, (any statement of your choosing), we are not logically precluded from re-expressing it in "neither/nor" terminology. Are we?

I understand that there is a lot to unpack here. I appreciate your time. I think we're pretty close to figuring this out!

Thank You

BenMingov on April 10, 2020

Hi Mazen, I appreciate your attention to detail. This is truly showing your commitment to getting this down. As you said, a lot to unpack, so let me do my best.

There is a different strength in the conditions between saying that someone can not be both wise AND intelligent vs. Not being possible to wise nor intelligent.

In the first example, when we say that someone can not be both. That means that it is possible they are either wise or intelligent, but not both.

In the second example, there is only one possibility for that person. That they are not wise and not intelligent.

That's the difference I was alluding to.

I also want to clarify something about what the essayist was saying:

In saying, "in my own experience" this does not mean that this is global truth that exists in the essayist's universe. All it means is that the people the essayist has met has either or, but not both qualities. It is possible that there are people with both wisdom and intelligence in the essayist's universe, but they just haven't had the pleasure of meeting!

I see what you mean by saying that "no one can either be wise or intelligent" is not a conditional statement, but rather a compound statement. I think the difference in this situation isn't too noteworthy. But IMO it is conditional because it applies when we are discussion people (the sufficient in the condition I presented). So, in my opinion, we can think of answer choice D as

Person -> NOT wise and NOT intelligent

Wise or intelligent -> NOT person

Not a huge difference if you diagrammed it as a condition because it is pretty intuitive to just keep it as a fact in your mind that is broadly applicable. In other words, you just cant be either wise nor intelligent, end of story. Both fine ways of approaching it.

So going back to your question, in this case it isn't imperative to diagram it as such. But I do think it is important to be able to diagram different formations such as "either/or" and "neither/nor"

Lastly, the interchangeable nature of "either/or" to "neither/nor" is questionable to me. I don't think that you can express either/or as neither/nor simply because they represent two different ideas.

Either/or means at least one of the two, possibly including both options.

E.g. Either I will eat ice cream or eat marshmallows.

Not eat ice cream -> eat marshmallows
Not eat marshmallows -> eat ice cream

Neither/nor is different because it precludes the possibility of either option occurring.

E.g. I will neither eat ice cream nor marshmallows

Me -> Not eat ice cream AND not eat marshmallows
Eat ice cream OR eat marshmallows -> well then it ain't me!!!

I hope this helps. As always, if you have any other questions or if I missed something from this behemoth of a message, just let me know!

Mazen on April 11, 2020


You missed nothing! :))))

Thank you immensely