If rational-choice theory is correct, then people act only in ways that they expect will benefit themselves. But this...

Audrey on May 11 at 08:00PM

Why E?

I choose D thinking it had to do with the groups of people, can someone explain why E?

2 Replies

Shunhe on May 12 at 02:32AM

Hi @Audrey-Swope,

Thanks for the question! So let’s take a look at the argument here real quick. We’re told that if rational-choice theory is correct, people will only act in ways that they expect will benefit themselves. The argument then concludes that since there are examples of people acting in ways that result in no personal benefit, rational-choice theory must be wrong.

Now we’re asked for a weakness in the argument, and one thing we should notice here is that there has been a certain equivocation of terms. In other words, the author talks about one thing in one part of the argument and another in another part. Rational-choice theory is presented as saying that people will act only in ways THAT THEY EXPECT will benefit them. But the author points to examples of people acting in ways that actually RESULT IN no personal benefit. But it’s completely possible that people who do things that don’t actually benefit them still expect those things to benefit them. For example, I might buy a certain gadget (a blender, a toy, a watch) expecting it to improve my quality of life, and it ends up being a piece of junk that doesn’t help at all. I’m still acting in accordance with rational-choice theory because I expected it to benefit me, even though it actually didn’t. And this is what (E) tells us—the author’s argument fails to realize this possibility.

(D) is wrong because the author isn’t presuming anything about how many more examples of acting in ways not personally beneficial there are than examples of people acting in ways that are personally beneficial. The author doesn’t need to presume this: she just needs one counterexample to show that rational-choice theory is wrong, since rational-choice theory says that people will ONLY act in a certain way.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.

Alexander on May 17 at 01:25AM

Would you please explain Answer E? Thank you.