Sociologist: Widespread acceptance of the idea that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare is ...

Timur on January 27, 2015

Clarification

Could you please explain what makes (D) incorrect and (E) correct

1 Reply

Melody on January 27, 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: legislators who value democracy should not propose any law prohibiting behavior that is not harmful to anyone besides the person engaging in it.

Why? The assumptions that appear to guide legislators will often become widely accepted. Widespread acceptance of the idea that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare is injurious to a democracy.

There is a gap between prohibiting behavior that is not harmful to anyone besides the person who engages in it, and accepting the idea that people are incapable of looking after their own welfare--which is harmful to democracy.

We have not been given information as to why when one is prohibited from behaving in a way that is not harmful to anyone but themselves, it is the same as accepting that that person is incapable of looking after his or her own welfare.

Answer choice (D) states: "in most cases, behavior that is harmful to the person who engages in it is harmful to no one else."

Does this strengthen? No.

This is irrelevant to the argument. We are discussing laws that prohibit behaviors that are not harmful to anyone BESIDES THE PERSON ENGAGING IN IT. Whether or not MOST of the behavior that is harmful to the person engaging in it is not harmful to anyone else, doesn't matter.

We want to strengthen the idea that legislators who value democracy should not propose any law prohibiting behavior that is not harmful to anyone other than the person engaging in it. Answer choice (D) does not touch upon this.

Answer choice (E): "a legislator proposing a law prohibiting an act that can harm only the person performing the act will seem to be assuming that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare."

Does this strengthen? Yes.

Answer choice (E) helps fill our gap and explain that when a legislature prohibits behavior that can harm only the person engaging in it, that will--in essence--equate to widespread acceptance of the idea that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare, which--as we are told--is injurious to democracy.

Thus, since we know that the assumptions that guide legislators will usually become widely accepted, and that the widespread acceptance of the idea that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare is injurious to a democracy, answer choice (E) strengthens our conclusion that legislators who value democracy should not propose any law prohibiting behavior that is not harmful to anyone besides that person engaging it because answer choice (E) explains that this type of law would seem to be assuming that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare.

Negation of (E): a legislator proposing a law prohibiting an act that can harm only the person performing the act will not necessarily be assuming that individuals are incapable of looking after their own welfare.

Does this make the argument fall apart? Yes.

If this specific law does not assume that people are incapable of looking after their own welfare--which is injurious of democracy--then those legislators who value democracy have no explicit reason not to propose a law that prohibits behavior that is not harmful to anyone besides the person engaging in it.

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