Reviewer: Many historians claim, in their own treatment of subject matter, to be as little affected as any natural s...

Deniann on November 2, 2013

Question 20

Can someone please explain this?

1 Reply

Melody on November 6, 2013

The conclusion of the argument is: "...we clearly cannot accept these proclamations of objectivity."

Why? Well, we know that "many historians claim...to be as little affected as any natural scientist by moral or aesthetic preconceptions.," but "it is easy to find instances of false historical explanations embodying the ideological and other prejudices of their authors."

The argument is vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that just because "it is easy to find instances of false historical explanations," this does not necessarily mean that "we cannot accept these proclamations of objectivity," because we do not know whether the "many historians" making these "proclamations" are the same ones making the "false historical explanations." If they are not the same, then we cannot conclude that it is clear we cannot accept the proclamations.

(A) is incorrect because the reviewer does not take this for granted. To take something for granted means to accept it without evidence. The reviewer has not accepted that "the model of objectivity offered by the natural sciences should apply in other fields." Therefore, the argument cannot be vulnerable for this reason.

(B) is incorrect because the evidence the reviewer offers does not undermine the conclusion. It merely does not fully support it.

(C) is incorrect because it is irrelevant to the argument. Even if answer choice (C) were true, it is not the error in reasoning being made. Therefore, the reviewer's reasoning is not most vulnerable to criticism for this reason.

(D) is CORRECT because the reviewer is accepting without evidence that "some historical work that embodies prejudices is written by historians who purport to be objective." However, there is no basis for this. There is no evidence showing that those whose work embodies prejudice and those who purport to be objective are not completely separate groups. If this were to be true, then we could not conclude that "we clearly cannot accept these proclamations of objectivity," because those who purport to be objective do not have work that embodies prejudices.

(E) is incorrect because it is much too broad to affect our argument. Failing to recognize that not all historical explanations embodying ideologies are false has no bearing on the argument. Therefore, it cannot be the reason why the reviewer's reasoning is most vulnerable to criticism.

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.