Help explain this Weaken-CE

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Hoocheez

Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:34 pm

Help explain this Weaken-CE

This problem is under the Causal Reasoning section of PowerScore.

Stimulus: Violent crime in this town is becoming a serious problem. Compared to last year, local law enforcement agencies have responded to 17 percent more calls involving violent crimes, showing that the average citizen is more likely than ever to become a victim of a violent crime.

Stem: Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

According to Powerscore, the causal reasoning is greater number of violent crimes-->more calls involving violent crimes. I'm told to attack the causal reasoning in the conclusion, only, but there is no causal reasoning in the conclusion (the average citizen is more victim than ever to become a victim of a violent crime).

How would you diagram this problem and aren't you supposed to attack the conclusion and leave the premises alone in causal weakening?

Geetar Man

Posts: 564
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 4:13 am

Re: Help explain this Weaken-CE

Hoocheez wrote:This problem is under the Causal Reasoning section of PowerScore.

Stimulus: Violent crime in this town is becoming a serious problem. Compared to last year, local law enforcement agencies have responded to 17 percent more calls involving violent crimes, showing that the average citizen is more likely than ever to become a victim of a violent crime.

Stem: Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

According to Powerscore, the causal reasoning is greater number of violent crimes-->more calls involving violent crimes. I'm told to attack the causal reasoning in the conclusion, only, but there is no causal reasoning in the conclusion (the average citizen is more victim than ever to become a victim of a violent crime).

How would you diagram this problem and aren't you supposed to attack the conclusion and leave the premises alone in causal weakening?

I'll bite. I think that it's trying to say that the conclusion is stating that there have been more calls about violent crimes which they believe is caused by a rise in the number of violent crimes occurring.

So yes, the conditional chain would be that since there are a greater number of crimes --> it must be the case that this is the reason for the greater number (percent) of calls involving violent crimes.

I believe a way to weaken this would be to find an alternate reason for the rise in calls, whatever that may be. Or by showing that the number of calls in total went down, which drove the percentage of, otherwise consistent, calls about violent crimes up. I'm sure there are other ways to weaken the answer choice, but you basically want to show that the evidence (the # of calls for violent crimes is going up) is flawed in some way, therefore the conclusion doesn't completely follow and is weakened due to this additional knowledge about the evidence provided.

Thats just how I see it.

Hoocheez

Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:34 pm

Re: Help explain this Weaken-CE

thanks for the response! I guess I'm supposed to extract the belief that underlies the conclusion

Geetar Man

Posts: 564
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 4:13 am

Re: Help explain this Weaken-CE

Hoocheez wrote:thanks for the response! I guess I'm supposed to extract the belief that underlies the conclusion

No problem.

I was actually having difficulty with CE weaken questions and found some advice, from another member (JEFFORT) who is on this forum but posted on another forum. I believe that this advice will help make things a little more clearer for what you need to do in these questions.

Jeffort wrote: With weaken questions the task is to find something that overall, in the context of the entire argument, makes the conclusion less likely to be true. The credited answer choice DOES NOT have to prove the conclusion to be totally false, it just has to put some doubt about its truth.

A big mistake many people make is thinking that they need to find an answer choice that makes the conclusion totally false or that directly attacks/contradicts it. That is not a requirement for the correct answer choice.

With some of the lower difficulty level/easy weaken questions the correct answer will directly attack the conclusion, but ones of that variety do not make up the majority of weaken questions that appear.

Typically the correct answer will attack an assumption made in the argument, meaning a gap in the premises that are presented to support the conclusion, which can also be described as something that the argument takes for granted as being true without it being explicitly established by the premises.

Due to the nature of the beast the arguments presented are flawed in some or various way (as are almost all LR arguments regardless of the question type). Consequently the only way to weaken a rock solid logically sound argument is to present an AC that directly proves that one of the premises supporting the conclusion is false. That is a matter of fact and not a matter of logic. There have only been a few (I think three) weaken questions since 1991 where the correct answer choice directly attacked/disproved an explicit premise.

Those were super easy questions that most people got correct. If a premise says "The sky is blue and there are no clouds out" to support the conclusion "It is not going to rain today" and you have an answer choice to weaken it that says "Dark thunder clouds are overhead", it would be a super easy question that is not testing you about logical reasoning and argumentation.

Now, back to the ranch about what to think about when analyzing weaken questions.

Cause and effect arguments are common. Meaning that the premises describe some circumstances (the described effects) and you are presented with a conclusion that is the author of the arguments opinion about what the cause of them was.

You should think about and analyze for possible alternative causes, which is the most common type of correct answer choice presented for CE weaken questions. As well you should be on the lookout for the less common variety where the correct answer choice presents something that describes either an instance of the claimed cause not resulting in the effect or the effect having occurred without the claimed (the conclusion) cause.

In terms of diagramming, that is mainly used for sufficient and necessary conditional relationships like:

If A then B A B

Cause and effect relationships that are found in many weaken questions as well as in flawed method of reasoning questions and other types including parallel the reasoning are related and there is some overlap with them to sufficient and necessary conditional logical relationships, but they are not the same and are frequently concepts that are confused and treated as the same.

To illustrate:

The occurrence of A is dependent on the occurrence of B

A B

That does NOT necessarily mean that A caused B. Depending on the way a S/N relationship is presented in the text of a question, the necessary condition may have occurred either before or after the sufficient condition temporally.

However, where the overlap between sufficient and necessary and cause and effect exists and how it applies to possibly diagramming is like this simple CE example:

Rain falling down causes the streets to get wet.

So you can legitimately diagram that as an S/N relationship.

Rain streets wet

Bottom line is that you should treat the two concepts as different and look at them differently because they are not the same.

Jeffort

Posts: 1888
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:43 pm

Re: Help explain this Weaken-CE

Wow, great find. I wrote that two years ago.

OP: You should read the entire thread it is from. Myself and a few other veteran LSAT prep teachers fleshed out the topic in a lot of detail and my quoted post is just one part of it.

http://www.lsatdiscussion.com/index.php ... 139.0.html

boblawlob

Posts: 519
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:29 pm

Re: Help explain this Weaken-CE

FYI: The conclusion is "Violent crime in this town is becoming a serious problem," not "the average citizen is more likely than ever to become a victim of a violent crime."