The author's argument in the third and fourth paragraphs would be most weakened if which one of the following were true?

Christopher on July 31, 2016

Why A?

I don't understand how this is pertinent to the discussion. The answer seems irrelevant to the argument in the reading...

1 Reply

Mehran on August 10, 2016

Hi @csdinkel, thanks for your post.

The question here asks you: The author's argument in the third and fourth paragraphs would be most WEAKENED if which one of the following were true?

This is a weaken question, and to get it right, we first have to be sure we understand the argument presented in the third and fourth paragraphs of the passage.

There, the author of the passage argues in favor of a new concept of "equipoise"--what he calls "clinical equipoise." Clinical equipoise is defined as a recognition "that [the clinical researchers'] less favored treatment is [nevertheless] preferred by a sizable constituency within the medical profession as a whole." Lines 53-56.

What premise underlies this argument? See lines 38-42: "One reason for conducting comparative clinical trials is to *resolve a current or imminent conflict* in the expert clinical community over what treatment is to be preferred for patients with a given illness." And see also lines 44-47: "Medical experts *may be divided* as to which treatment is better, with each side recognizing that opposing experts can differ honestly in their interpretation of the evidence."

So now we see it. If these premises are true, then the author's claim that a new conception of "equipoise"--one in which everyone involved recognizes that there is a real division among medical experts as to the "best" course of action--makes sense per the ethical and other considerations outlined in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the passage.

Now let's consider answer choice (A).

If instead it is true that, going into most comparative clinical trials, there is actually a "majority view"--a "consensus of relevant experts"--and if it is true that the "main purpose" of most comparative clinical trials is to just prove that this outcome is definitively correct--then the author's argument falls apart.

Why? Because if medical experts are not actually divided (which is the author's premise), then "clinical equipoise" is not going to satisfy the rigorous ethical standards discussed in paragraph 1.

Hope that helps! Please let us know if you have any additional questions.