Helen: It was wrong of my brother Mark to tell our mother that the reason he had missed her birthday party the eve...

Sangwook on September 11, 2014

Additional Question

I picked (A) over (E) after pondering over choosing between both. But, I still don't understand why (A) wouldn't be the answer. Thanks, always.

2 Replies

Melody on September 24, 2014

Helen is concluding that her brother's act of lying to their mother as to why he missed her birthday party was a morally wrong act. To support this claim she presents the following general principle: "saying something that is false can never be other than morally wrong."

This is a very extreme general principle that Helen does not give any reasoning for. There are so many nuanced situations that could possibly cause one to lie for good reason.

Answer choice (A) states: "ignores an important moral distinction between saying something that is false and failing to say something that one knows to be true."

This answer choice is irrelevant. Mark did not fail to say something that one knows to be true; we know that he told his mother a lie. Therefore, he did not abstain from telling the truth. He told a lie in place of the truth. This is why this answer choice is not applicable to the situation at hand.

Answer choice (E) states: "attempts to justify a judgment about a particular case by citing a general principle that stands in far greater need of support than does the particular judgment."

This is the issue we pointed out. The general principle that Helen uses to support her claim that Mark's action was morally wrong needs much more reasoning behind it. It is far too broad of a principle to use without any justification.

Here we have that rare situation where the premise of the stimulus is being called into question as opposed to the conclusion.

Don't forget that there are two ways of weakening any argument. You must either show that a premise is false or that a conclusion does not necessarily follow. This answer choice is doing the former.

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

Sangwook on September 26, 2014

Wow!!! Thank you for your quick corrected answer and reminding me of the crucial point!!!^^