Critic: An art historian argues that because fifteenth- century European paintings were generally more planimetric (t...

Ame15 on July 8, 2020

Why E and not A?

Is the reason why E is correct is beacause it is saying that the Author's conclusion is inadequate? I took B to mean that the Author merely took the Art Historian's claim and "objected" to its facts. It seemed like the better choice.

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shunhe on July 10, 2020

Hi @Ame15,

Thanks for the question! So let’s break down what this argument is doing first. It tells us that there’s this historian who argues that since 15th-century paintings are more planimetric than 16th-century paintings, 15th-century painters had a greater mastery of painting than 16th-century ones. The critic concludes that this is wrong, and that the 15th-century painters did not have a greater mastery than 16th-century ones. Why? Because how well you can do planimetric is irrelevant to mastery.

So now we’re asked for a flaw in the argument. Well, one flaw stands out. The argument concludes that the historian doesn’t have the right evidence for their conclusion, and thus that the conclusion is wrong. That’s not good reasoning; the author can only say that their conclusion is unsupported, not that the conclusion is false. And think of the following example for why: let’s say a friend says they looked out the window, and as a result, they know it’s raining. But you know they didn’t look out the window. Do you automatically conclude it’s not raining? No, you still don’t know that. All you can say is that you can’t support the conclusion that it is raining, not that the conclusion is false. And that’s the mistake that’s made here that’s discussed in (E).

You said you picked B and also asked why not A, so I’ll just talk about why both of those are wrong.

(A) is wrong because the proponent of the position here would be the historian. Are we told about other objectionable views the historian has? No, we’re just told about this one. So (A) is incorrect.

(B) is wrong because the word “mastery” is used consistently throughout the stimulus to refer to a mastery of painting.

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