Critic: Works of modern literature cannot be tragedies as those of ancient playwrights and storytellers were unless ...

Kim on January 5, 2015

Confused

Please Explain

1 Reply

Melody on January 7, 2015

Here we have a strengthen with necessary premise question. Remember that a premise is necessary for a conclusion if the falsity of the premise guarantees or brings about the falsity of the conclusion. First we check to see if the answer choice strengthens the passage, and then, if it does strengthen, we negate the answer choice to see if its negation makes the argument fall apart. If the answer choice does both those things then it is our correct answer.

Conclusion: it is impossible for a contemporary work of literature to be a tragedy.

C: not T

Why? Works of modern literature cannot be tragedies as those of ancient playwrights and storytellers were unless their protagonists are seen as possessing nobility.

P1: T ==> PSN
not PSN ==> not T

We are also told that this age no longer takes seriously the belief that human endeavors are governed by fate.

P2: not SBF

Answer choice (D) states: "Those whose endeavors are not regarded as governed by fate will not be seen as possessing nobility."

Does this strengthen? Yes.

There is a gap between taking the belief that human endeavors are governed by fate seriously, and having a work of modern literature be regarded as a tragedy. Answer choice (D) fills that gap.

(D): not SBF ==> not PSN
PSN ==> SBF

We are told that this age no longer takes seriously the belief that human endeavors are governed by fate, and answer choice (D) tells us that when endeavors are not regarded as governed by fate--as told to us in "P2"--then they will not be seen as possessing nobility.

And we know--from the contrapositive of "P1"--that those who are not seen as possessing nobility cannot have works of modern literature that are regarded as tragedies, which is the conclusion of the argument: it is impossible for a contemporary work of literature to be a tragedy.

So, answer choice (D) helps connect the argument to the conclusion: not SBF ==> not PSN ==> not T. Thus, it strengthens the argument.

Negation of (D): Those whose endeavors are not regarded as governed by fate could still be seen as possessing nobility.

Does this make the argument fall apart? Yes.

If those whose endeavors are not regarded as governed by fate could still be seen as possessing nobility, then the fact that this age "no longer takes seriously the belief that human endeavors are governed by fate" will not necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is "impossible for a contemporary work of literature to be a tragedy," since their protagonists could still be seen as possessing nobility--which is what is necessary for works of modern literature to be a tragedy.

Hope that clears things up! Please let us know if you have any other questions.