The view that every person is concerned exclusively with her or his own self–interest implies that government by cons...

Joseph on April 18, 2020

Clarification on answer choice A

“Infers merely from fact of someone’s holding a belief that he or she must believe implication of that belief”. Is the “holding of belief” referring to the social theorists belief that people are concerned only with their self-interest? And is the implication of their belief the statement that “evidently believe that aspiring to democracy is futile”. Why can’t the general principle “the view that every person is concerned exclusively with her or his own self interest implies that government by consent is impossible” be invoked? Is the correct answer choice saying that if a social theorist believes that people are concerned only with their self interest then it is not necessarily true that the necessary statement of general principle “government by consent is impossible” has to follow? Is a diagram necessary for this question? Any other tips for breaking down question would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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on April 25, 2020

Hello @Joey77,

This is a tricky one, let's see if we can simplify it. It might be helpful to diagram a few of these statements.

Premise: If everyone is exclusively self-interested, then government by consent is impossible.
ESI ---> no GC

Premise: Democracy is not possible without government by consent.
no GC ---> no D

Remember that we accept premises as true, so we can rightly conclude that exclusively self-interested people cannot form a democracy.
ESI ---> no GC ---> no D

However, this is not the conclusion that is made by the author.
Conclusion: Thus, social theorists who believe people are exclusively self-interested must believe that aspiring to democracy is futile.

The error begins when the author tries to conclude what other people believe. We simply cannot say what these social theorists believe. While it might be true that aspiring to democracy is futile in this case, we do not know for certain that the social theorists believe this. They may reject this implication! To answer your first question, you have accurately identified the belief and the implication.

I think that the key to this question is to carefully differentiate premise from conclusion. This is the key to every question, but here it seems especially important.

Joseph on April 26, 2020

Very helpful! Thank you @SamA