Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

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biggestlawman
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Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

Postby biggestlawman » Mon May 04, 2015 1:30 pm

How do you categories Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply) questions as categorized in the Cambridge Packets? I was trying to categorize Principle (Identify) as Sufficient Assumption (~) questions as suggested by the Trainer, but that does not seem to work. Where am I going wrong?

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Mon May 04, 2015 1:43 pm

Are the Principle (ID) the ones that have an argument in the stimulus and ask you to choose an answer that is the principle? I'm not always clear on the cambridge labels.

If so, those are actually strengtheners on crack. The problem that a lot of students have is that the correct answer for a ton of (but not all) Principle (support) questions would also work as the correct answer for a Sufficient Assumption question - so it's easy to just conflate the two.

The problem is that the while most answers fit the Sufficient Assumption profile, technically, nothing in the question stem requires the answer to perfectly and completely fill the gap or guarantee the argument's validity. In fact, if you look at the syntax of the question stem for a lot of Principle (support), they are constructed very similarly to strengthen questions:

"Which of the following principles, if valid, would most help to justify the argument?"
"Which of the following statements, if true, would provide the most support for the argument?"

The reason that they often (but not always) happen to also work as Sufficient Assumption answers is because they are generally written in conditional language. If there's only one major disconnect in the argument, and the answer is a conditional statement that fills in the missing link, that's going to feel a TON like a sufficient assumption.

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biggestlawman
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Re: Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

Postby biggestlawman » Mon May 04, 2015 1:54 pm

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:Are the Principle (ID) the ones that have an argument in the stimulus and ask you to choose an answer that is the principle? I'm not always clear on the cambridge labels.

If so, those are actually strengtheners on crack. The problem that a lot of students have is that the correct answer for a ton of (but not all) Principle (support) questions would also work as the correct answer for a Sufficient Assumption question - so it's easy to just conflate the two.

The problem is that the while most answers fit the Sufficient Assumption profile, technically, nothing in the question stem requires the answer to perfectly and completely fill the gap or guarantee the argument's validity. In fact, if you look at the syntax of the question stem for a lot of Principle (support), they are constructed very similarly to strengthen questions:

"Which of the following principles, if valid, would most help to justify the argument?"
"Which of the following statements, if true, would provide the most support for the argument?"

The reason that they often (but not always) happen to also work as Sufficient Assumption answers is because they are generally written in conditional language. If there's only one major disconnect in the argument, and the answer is a conditional statement that fills in the missing link, that's going to feel a TON like a sufficient assumption.


I think I got ruffled by one "The argument tacitly appeals to which one of the following?" stem, which surely is a required assumption question. The rest actually seem to fit the bill for being sufficient assumption questions. I am getting the sense that within sufficient assumption questions, the Principle (Identify) questions are major premise requisitions. Is that right?

And, what about the Principle (Apply) questions?

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Mon May 04, 2015 2:41 pm

Did that question stem happen to be from PT2? 8) I'm not sure I've seen that particular wording since then.

I think you're absolutely right that that question stem reads as much closer to a necessary assumption than a sufficient one. I also think that question stems that read "the argument above most conforms to which of the following principles", and "which most accurately expresses the principle underlying the above argument" read a bit more like necessary assumptions than sufficient ones.

But the distinction between necessary-ish and sufficient-ish seems to me to be a waste of precious time. There's a danger in over categorizing questions - you can get stuck in minutiae that prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.

With all of those Principle - support style questions, if you simply view them as strengtheners that need to match the argument, you're focused on the right task. Most answer choices will be conditional: make sure the trigger matches the premise information, the result matches the conclusion information, keep in mind the correct answer could be in contrapositive form, and you're good to go.

Wrong answer choices on Principle-support questions are typically not going to hinge on small distinctions between something that completely validates the argument (but goes slightly too far) and something that we definitively need for the argument to make sense (but doesn't quite perfectly validate it).

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the term "major premise requisitions" though. :oops:

As for Principle (Apply) questions, again, I don't think the categorization of them matters nearly as much as understanding your task. It's an inverted version of the same task you have for Principle-support: now you get the conditional up-front and have to match it to an argument or situation. I think of them as a version of Inference questions, but I perform the same "match the trigger to the premise, match the result to the conclusion, beware of contrapositives" process as before.

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biggestlawman
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Re: Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

Postby biggestlawman » Mon May 04, 2015 3:34 pm

Thanks for being so helpful! Wonder what Mike (The Trainer) might have to say about this! I am trying to see Mike's perspective as it is only going to add to my understanding. Manhattan books are next! :)

As for major premise requisitions, these principles, the ones that the stimuli conform to and the ones that are illustrative, etc., should all be major premises.

I understand your emphasis on just understanding the stem and using basic understanding of arguments to answer the questions, but, the grunt work done now from different angles will only add to my understanding.

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biggestlawman
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Re: Principle (Identify) and Principle (Apply)

Postby biggestlawman » Mon May 04, 2015 4:31 pm

BTW, trigger is definitely important in choosing the correct choice! Thanks for the cue!




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