In contemplating major purchases, businesses often consider only whether there is enough money left from monthly reve...

AndrewArabie on April 21 at 01:33AM

strengthening premises

I recently just posted in the forum on Q16 from the LSAT Dec '92, Sec 2. My question was essentially "Doesn't the correct answer just strengthen a premise? Shouldn't the correct AC strengthen the relationship between the premise and conclusion." Emil and my tutor advised me that strengthening a premise is a way of strengthening an argument. Answer choice E here looks like its strengthening a premise but I know its not the right answer so I chose D. When is an answer choice that just strengthen's a premise a correct answer? What criteria need to be met?

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Emil-Kunkin on April 22 at 03:48PM

Hi, this is a great question and I'm actually going to paste some of what I say here into q16 of 92 as well to clarify. In this case, I think there are two issues with E. First, I'm not sure if it exactly strengthens a premise. I think the author would clearly agree with it, and it might add urgency to the argument, but I'm not seeing a direct way that it strengthens any of the authors stated premises.

The other reason I would be skeptical about E is that there is a glaring flaw in this argument. The author makes a great case for why we need to track more than monthly expenses, but what does that have to do with the cash flow statement??? The author advocates a solution without actually giving us any info about what that solution is or why it solves the problem! (And, while my accounting is a bit rusty im pretty sure cash flow statements don't include relevant non cash expenses like depreciation). This argument has a glaring flaw, and the vast majority of the time in order to strengthen an argument with a glaring flaw, the answer will address that flaw rather than strengthen a premise.

More generally, I should have noted that we can strengthen an argument by strengthening a premise WHEN THERE IS SOME DOUBT ABOUT THE PREMISE. This is a pretty important point that I completely neglected to make, and thank you for bringing this up. If we have a premise "the earth is round" we don't really have a way to strengthen that. However, if we have a premise that "given the best available methods, scientists think the earth is round" we could strengthen that by learning that the best available methods for measuring roundness are effectively foolproof. In the example from pt92 I think the premise we were strengthening was that "this change would pose a safety risk" there is some doubt about that premise. How big of a risk? How likely is something unsafe? How severe would it be?

To sum it up, a premise "drug D completely cures condition C" really doesn't have any doubt and would be hard to strengthen. However "one recent study indicates that D completely cures C" has some doubt. Methodologies? Sample size? Sample representativeness? We can only really strengthen premises with some doubt.

AndrewArabie on April 22 at 08:24PM

Thank you Emil for such a thorough explanation! I'll apply this rule of thumb from now on