University president: Research institutions have an obligation to promote research in any field of theoretical invest...

Keith on July 29, 2020

A vs. E

Why is answer choice A incorrect? Principle: If likely to fix practical problem, then obligation to promote research. If no obligation to promote research, then not likely to fix practical problem. A says application for research denied (not obliged to promote) and the research had no relation practical concern. This is the contrapositive of the principle. I understand why E works just not why A does not.

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Shunhe on July 30, 2020

Hi @ikarus,

Thanks for the question! So let’s recap the stimulus first. We’re told that research institutions have an obligation to promote research in any field of theoretical investigation if the research shows some promise of yielding insights into the causes of practical problems that actually affect people’s lives. Well, this is a long sentence, but it’s essentially one long conditional sentence, as evidenced by the key word “if.” So we can diagram this as

Theoretical research shows promise of insights into cause of practical problems —> Research institutions have obligation to promote

So now we’re looking to see what will be justified by this logic. And now take a look at (A), which tells us about a university denying a grant application from a faculty member for work on a solution to a famous math puzzle that doesn’t have any relation to practical concerns. Well, if that’s the case, then the conditional logic doesn’t apply, since it only applies to research that shows promise of insights into the cause of practical problems, and (A) explicitly tells us that this math puzzle doesn’t have any relation to practical concerns. So since the conditional doesn’t apply to this situation, it can’t justify it, and that’s why (A) is wrong.

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

Keith on July 30, 2020

@shunhe thanks for the explanation. Basically we're presented with the principle X --> Y and answer choice A gives us Z, so nothing can be concluded using our principle.

Shunhe on July 31, 2020

Yup, exactly!

Fiona on September 3, 2020

I'm still not quite understanding this. I thought A was the contrapositive of the stimulus argument? Why is this not the case?