Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Walrus
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Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Walrus » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:55 pm

P: The entry of "me too" drugs into the market can result in a price reduction for the drugs they resemble
C: "Me too" drugs can indeed benefit consumers

Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?

Correct AC: Some "me too" drugs turn out to be more effective than the drugs they were designed to imitate.

My trouble with this argument is that I see argument's reasoning valid. Premise says that there is one beneficial effect of "me too" drugs. Conclusion says that "me too" drugs can potentially benefit consumers.

If I am wrong and argument is not valid, then where is the flaw?
If I am right and argument is valid then I have a question - is it possible to strengthen valid argument?

Thank you!!!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:34 pm

I completely understand the desire to see this argument as valid - after all, it has a pretty soft conclusion 'can'. Usually we see strong conclusions, with 'must' or 'will be', and it's easy to think of ways the strong conclusion doesn't have to be true. When conclusions are strong, we only have to think of one possible exception to blow it up.

Here, though, undermining this conclusion would be harder.

Let's take a simpler case: If I tell you that I ALWAYS wear high heels, it's easy to call me a liar, right? You only need one single instance of me not wearing high heels to prove me wrong. But what if I said "I sometimes wear high heels"? To call me a liar now, you'd have to prove that I NEVER EVER wear high heels. That's a harder thing to prove, but still theoretically possible.

Back to the argument: I like to look for assumptions by asking 'how could I live in a world where the premise is true, but the conclusion wasn't - what would that look like?" So, how could I live in a world where the imitation drugs can be cheaper, but it is NEVER POSSIBLE for them to benefit consumers?

Well, remember that the first sentence indicated these imitation drugs were 'more or less' the same. That's...not very encouraging. What if they are all terrible, terrible imitations that are far less effective? Make the drugs bad enough, and we have a world where there's no way the drugs could possibly be a benefit to consumers - the trick is that *all* the drugs would have to be really bad to fully kill the conclusion. It's an extreme scenario, but entirely possible - and that means the conclusion is still vulnerable!

So, the argument is assuming that's not the case; it's assuming that the drugs are not all so godawful as to be of no benefit even with the savings. And that's what the correct answer targets: if at least some of the drugs are *more* effective than the originals, that assumption is upheld!

Does that help a bit?

Walrus
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Walrus » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:55 pm

Thank you for response!

So, the argument is assuming that's not the case; it's assuming that the drugs are not all so godawful as to be of no benefit even with the savings. And that's what the correct answer targets: if at least some of the drugs are *more* effective than the originals, that assumption is upheld!


This was actually one side of debate in my head:) I thought that if argument gave me only 1 possible beneficial effect it did't automatically mean that an overall effect of "not me" drugs is beneficial. There are hypothetical worlds where "me too" drugs' overall effect is not beneficial. And "A" attacks these hypothetical worlds. In other words "A" makes conclusion more plausible.

But then I thought about this: If "me too" drugs have one beneficial effect then they "can" benefit customers. In other words existence of the single beneficial effect makes possible the hypothetical world where "me too" drugs' overall effect is beneficial. This couldn't be possible if "me too" drugs hadn't any beneficial effect at all. This one hypothetical world is enough for concluding "can benefit." In this case "A" makes it plausible that there could be even more hypothetical worlds where "me too" drugs' overall effect is beneficial. But this doesn't affect validity of the argument.

Maybe I am overthinking this argument, but its using of "can" makes me confused.

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:34 am

I completely understand why it's making you confused! Weak conclusions feel a lot more valid than strong ones - but even they can be vulnerable to attack in the right circumstances.

You say that a single beneficial effect supports a conclusion that the 'me too' drugs *can* be beneficial. But what if ALL the 'me too' drugs are so ineffective that every single one of them is a bad thing, even though they are cheaper? Wouldn't that destroy the conclusion? In *that* world, it would not be possible for the 'me too' drugs to be beneficial - EVER.

If there's a world where the conclusion wouldn't work, then we must be assuming we're not in that world!


Try a similar example - what if the argument was this:
I studied all weekend, but I missed the review session. Therefore, it's possible for me to get an A on the exam.

Is that valid?

That only works if we assume that there's no rule that says 'if you miss the review session, you can't get an A.' If there WERE such a rule, that conclusion would go out the window! It would no longer even be *possible* for me to get an A. So, the argument is assuming that rule is NOT in play - and we could strengthen the argument by simply saying "some people get As even without having attended the review session".

What do you think?

Walrus
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Walrus » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:02 pm

This makes sense. Single beneficial effect makes overall beneficial effect possible but doesn't guarantee it. If we add one more beneficial effect the possibility of overall beneficial effect increases. So "can" in the argument indicates possibility and possibility is open to strengthening (unless, I think, it is 100%).

Thank you!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:20 pm

I think you're close! It's not the fact that the possibility could be strengthened that's the issue - if the possibility was 100%, this would be a strong conclusion and the flaw would be much more obvious to us. But you're right to be focused on what the premise does and does not GUARANTEE.

I would say that the single beneficial point (cost) COULD mean that the drugs are beneficial, in the right circumstances. But not only does that NOT GUARANTEE that the drugs *are* beneficial, it also DOESN'T GUARANTEE that the drugs are even *possibly* beneficial.

Do you see the difference? The premise does not guarantee even the *possibility* of the conclusion.

Usually, with strong conclusions, you're just looking at it as "okay, the premise doesn't guarantee that the drugs WILL BE beneficial". But with this weak conclusion, it's even worse: "the premise doesn't actually guarantee even the possibility that the drugs will be beneficial".

Take a ridiculous argument:
I had coffee this morning. Therefore, it's possible for the sun to rise in the west tomorrow.

My coffee certainly doesn't guarantee that the sun WILL rise in the west tomorrow. But it also doesn't even guarantee that there's a POSSIBILITY of the sun rising in the west tomorrow.

Walrus
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Walrus » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:00 pm

I would say that the single beneficial point (cost) COULD mean that the drugs are beneficial, in the right circumstances. But not only does that NOT GUARANTEE that the drugs *are* beneficial, it also DOESN'T GUARANTEE that the drugs are even *possibly* beneficial.

Do you see the difference? The premise does not guarantee even the *possibility* of the conclusion.


Yes, I think I understand what you are trying to say. So one beneficial effect indicates nothing about possibility of overall beneficial effect because there might be other negative effects that would outweigh it. And argument leaves question about other possible negative effects open. In other words at least one beneficial effect is NECESSARY for possibility of overall beneficial effect but NOT SUFFICIENT. So on the basis of knowing about one beneficial effect we can't say that overall beneficial effect is possible.

Whew :)

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Jeffort
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby Jeffort » Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:51 am

Another reason the premise about price reduction doesn't guarantee the conclusion is because the premise itself only establishes that price reduction MIGHT happen if me too drugs are introduced into the market, not that this benefit will actually occur. In essence, the conclusion is trying to prove a maybe with another maybe, which is enough to say something is theoretically possible but not conclusive that the end result is itself possible in reality since its enabling condition/support is still only hypothetical itself. If introducing the me too drugs into the market doesn't cause the price reduction, the conclusion is completely unsupported since price reduction is the only potential benefit mentioned.

It's kinda like trying to stack two assumptions together to prove something, it doesn't work logically.

There might be other ways to do it, but the only one I can think of offhand that is logically sufficient to prove something is possible is to give an example of at least one occurrence of it actually having happened. One example is enough to conclusively prove something is possible. Kinda like, is it possible for someone that has earned over $100 million to still be dumb enough to land in legal trouble and make an arse of himself on worldwide news for stupid crimes twice in about two weeks? That question has been answered with logical certainty recently. :P

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PDaddy
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Re: Superprep Test C February 2000 LR S2 Q19

Postby PDaddy » Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:18 am

Walrus wrote:P: The entry of "me too" drugs into the market can result in a price reduction for the drugs they resemble
C: "Me too" drugs can indeed benefit consumers

Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?

Correct AC: Some "me too" drugs turn out to be more effective than the drugs they were designed to imitate.

My trouble with this argument is that I see argument's reasoning valid. Premise says that there is one beneficial effect of "me too" drugs. Conclusion says that "me too" drugs can potentially benefit consumers.

If I am wrong and argument is not valid, then where is the flaw?
If I am right and argument is valid then I have a question - is it possible to strengthen valid argument?

Thank you!!!


The approach here is wrong, and it's hanging you up. You are strengthening the central assumption of a valid argument. The fact that an argument can bear strengthening makes it neither necessarily weak (though it could be) nor flawed or invalid.

The correct answer can strengthen a little or a lot, it just depends on the specific vulnerability of the argument. Remember that even strong arguments can have vulnerabilities, but that doesn't make them invalid.

The squib starts out stating that "me too" drugs CAN result in price decreases for the drugs they resemble, and concludes that such drugs CAN have general benefits for consumers.

The central assumption here is that the effectiveness of "me too" drugs CAN, by some virtue, lead to a decreased demand in the drugs they resemble, which also benefits consumers. This is a quasi-causal argument with a causal assumption. That means the correct answer will strengthen the argument by having one of the five following effects on the central assumption:

Increasing the likelihood that the cause leads to the effect;
Increasing the likelihood that the effect results from the cause;
Decreasing the likelihood of an alternate cause;
Decreasing or eliminating the likelihood of a reverse relationship between the cause and the effect;
Eliminating a statistical problem (if statistics are cited as evidence)

(Perform the opposite actions when weakening)

This wasn't a tough question. Looking back at the correct answer, it is easy to see a connection between the effectiveness of the "me too" drugs and a possible price reduction of the drugs they replicate. The question you must ask - if you correctly identify the central assumption - is how the existence of "me too" drugs could cause a price decrease.

As stated in the correct answer, they are often more effective.

If "me too" drugs are more effective than their counterparts, it increases the likelihood that their existence causes a decreased demand in the latter drugs, resulting in price decreases for the traditional drugs. This means that there are two benefits: better drugs and lower prices.

In strengthen/weaken questions, focus your efforts on identifying the central assumptions in the arguments and you will never miss! Do not focus your action on the conclusion. The end effect is the validation of the conclusion, but the central assumption is the point of attack.

It's problematic for me when books don't break that down, because I think most students will take literally the direction to strengthen the conclusion, when the real focus is strengthening the mechanics that lead to the conclusion. The conclusion is it's own animal...a destination at which you arrive by taking certain logical steps.

Conclusions are only weak or strong to the extent that they are supported by the premises; so focusing on the conclusion is futile. Always think about the form of the logic used and go to the logical gaps or weaknesses.

You aren't really doing anything to the conclusion per se, just making the route much easier (or more difficult in the case of weaken questions).

The other benefit to this approach is that solving most LR questions involves identifying assumptions. Flaw, Method of Reasoning, Point at Issue, Assumption, Justify, Strengthen, Weaken.

Think about flawed reasoning for a second. There are only two kinds really: flaw of commission and flaw of omission. One generally "takes something for granted" or "neglects to consider" something; either way an assumption is made, and solving the question depends on your identification of that assumption. Identifying assumptions is a huge key to mastering LR generally.

Students also forget to employ their understanding of formal logic when its use isn't as obvious. This is a grave mistake. Always look out for formal logic in the stimulus. This will assist you with identifying assumptions.

Why? If-then statements aren't necessarily causal, but causal arguments employ if-then logic and can thus be distilled in those terms. "If you cut me I will bleed" is at once causal reasoning and classic formal logic.

If "me-too" then can benefit consumers. Strengthen this way:

If "me too" then demand for "me too" increases then use of conventional drugs decreases then demand for conventional drugs decreases then prices of conventional drugs decrease, then can benefit consumers, BECAUSE "me too" DRUGS WILL OFTEN OUT-PERFORM THE DRUGS THEY REPLICATE.

The bolded part strengthens the assumption that demand for "me too" drugs will increase and that demand for (and thus price of) traditional drugs will decrease as a result.

And, as you can see, there can still be problems with this logic even though you have identified the correct answer (in bold). Your job isn't to go any further.

Just so you know, there could be several assumptions made.

The stimulus may also assume that patients using "me too" drugs will not continue using traditional drugs. It could further assume that no new pathogens will create increased demand for traditional drugs. Even further, it could assume that traditional drugs will not be more readily available than "me too" drugs. Even when (A) is more effective, the demand for (B) can remain high if it is more readily available.

But what if everyone switched to the "me too" drugs? Wouldn't that cause inflated demand and this price increases for the new drugs? How would that benefit consumers? So the stimulus might also assume that such a price increase doesn't occur.

Identifying assumptions will help solve many of these questions.




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