An art critic, by ridiculing an artwork, can undermine the pleasure one takes in it; conversely, by lavishing praise ...

Derek on September 10, 2014

Why A

Why would the merit of an artistic work depend on the pleasure it elicits if an art critic can determine how others feel about it? What if the art critic is lying and doesn't enjoy the artist, and criticizes the piece? From the passage it seems like, if this happened, we would assume the art critic, and not the actual merit, would have control over the pleasure it elicits.

3 Replies

Melody on September 17, 2014

This is a strengthen with sufficient premise question. Remember that a sufficient premise is sufficient for a conclusion, if and only if the existence of the premise guarantees or brings about the existence of the conclusion. Therefore, we need to find the premise that 100% guarantees the conclusion. The way you want to attack these answer choices is two-pronged. Ask yourself, does it strengthen? If it doesn't, then cross it out and continue to the next answer choice. If it does strengthen, however, then ask yourself whether or not the premise guarantees the conclusion.

The conclusion is "an artwork's artistic merit can depend not only on the person who creates it but also on those who critically evaluate it."

Why? We know that by ridiculing an artwork, an art critic can undermine the pleasure one takes in the artwork. Further, we know that by lavishing praise on the artwork, the art critic can render the experience of viewing the artwork more pleasurable.

You're correct in pointing out that the art critic, therefore, can essentially "determine how others feel about" the artwork, i.e. determine how much pleasure one takes in the artwork. It doesn't matter how the art critic actually feels when they are criticizing the work. Even if they are lying when they say they dislike a work, their comments will still determine the pleasure elicited by the viewers. So we currently have a gap between the idea of artistic merit--which is only ever introduced to us in the conclusion--and the amount of pleasure being elicited by an artwork.

Answer choice (A) states: "The merit of an artistic work is determined by the amount of pleasure it elicits."

Does this answer choice strengthen the argument? Yes. It helps us connect the gap we mentioned above. If artistic merit is determined by the amount of pleasure an artwork elicits, since art critics determine how much pleasure an artwork elicits, we can conclude that an artwork's artistic merit can also depend on the art critic who critically evaluates the artwork.

Does this answer choice guarantee the conclusion? Yes. As we mentioned above, since art critics determine how much pleasure an artwork elicits and since answer choice (A) states that the merit of an artistic work is determined by the amount of pleasure the artwork elicits, it must be true that "an artwork's artistic merit can depend not only on the person who creates it but also on those who critically evaluate it."

Hope that was helpful! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

on May 31, 2018

Why are D and E wrong?

Christopher on June 6, 2018

@meisen (D) and (E) both basically restate pieces of the question without adding anything to it. What is missing in the argument is the link between being pleasurable and being meritorious. (A) provides that link and therefore strengthens the argument.