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#7 - Murray: You claim Senator Brandon has accepted gifts

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Complete Question Explanation

Point of Agreement. The correct answer choice is (E)

Murray’s argument is that the criticism of Senator Brandon is wrong because it is motivated by personal dislike. This is said to be shown by the fact that Jane does not criticize other politicians who have accepted gifts from lobbyists.

In her reply, Jane admits that she dislikes Senator Brandon, but indicates that the senator’s offense cannot be excused despite the fact that she has not criticized others for the same offense.

Answer choice (A): Murray does not indicate that he would necessarily agree with this statement. In his argument, Murray uses language that reflects his uncertainty: “you claim Senator Brandon has accepted gifts” and “what you accuse Senator Brandon of doing” (italics added for emphasis). If the view of one side is unknown, there cannot be a proven agreement, and thus the answer choice must be incorrect. That is the case with this answer choice, and thus (A) is wrong.

Answer choice (B): Although Jane agrees with this statement, Murray never comments on this issue, and thus this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): The key word to this answer choice is the word “only.” Murray agrees with this statement, but Jane does not. Although Jane admits she dislikes Senator Brandon, she clearly indicates that in her opinion the Senator has committed an “offense.” This provides an alternate reason for Jane criticizing Senator Brandon, and so the answer choice can be eliminated.

Answer choice (D): Murray clearly states that Senator Brandon should not be criticized, and thus he would not agree with the statement in this answer choice.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. Murray states that Jane has not criticized “other politicians who have done what you accuse Senator Brandon of doing” (italics added for emphasis). This indicates that he believes that other politicians have accepted gifts. Jane clearly believes Senator Brandon has accepted gifts (“the senator’s offense”), and so this answer choice passes the Agree/Agree Test and is correct.
tizwvu34
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I chose answer B and my reasoning was as follows. Murray initially qualifies the fact that Senator Brandon has accepted gifts from lobbyists as a “claim” but in the second sentence he qualifies this same fact as a “criticism”. This shift in referring to the same thing as both a “claim” to a “criticism” in my mind indicated that Murray acknowledes that accepting gifts is bad/wrong. Had the second sentence simply said you are wrong to make this claim then I would not of chosen B.
Adam Tyson
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That's a really interesting point, tizwvu34, and one I honestly had not considered before! But, I think it requires reading a little too much into both the stimulus and that answer choice. Here's what I mean:

First, it is possible to acknowledge that someone is being criticized without believing that the conduct discussed is wrong. For example, some of our current President's detractors criticize him for wanting to build a wall on our southern border. Many of his supporters respond by saying that he should not be criticized for that, because the wall is, in their opinion, a good idea. They acknowledge the criticism while believing that the conduct is not actually wrong. So, perhaps Murray thinks along those lines - he agrees that Jane is criticizing the Senator for doing something, but he may think it isn't really wrongdoing?

Second, there is the very broad nature of answer B. Can we be sure that Murray thinks that it is always wrong for politicians to accept gifts from lobbyists? Even if we interpret his use of "criticism" as you did, to acknowledge that it would have been wrong for the Senator to do it in this case, can we go so far as to say that Murray thinks it's always wrong, for any politician? Or could we only go so far as to say it would have been wrong for the Senator to have done it in this instance? I think the latter might be supported, but not the former. We have no way of knowing what Murray would say about, say, a Prime Minister accepting such a gift, or a Mayor, or an Alderman. Answer B just goes too far (and that's before we even check to see if Jane thinks this is also always the case, or if she leaves room for exceptions).

Finally, there is the issue of the instructions for LR, which tell us to pick the best answer. While answer B takes some degree of interpretation and assumptions on our part, answer E needs no help at all. It's clear that Jane thinks someone has done this, and Murray also acknowledges it ("other politicians who have done what you accuse Senator Brandon of doing.") With no further effort on our part we can see that Murray and Jane agree completely that this is true. That makes this answer effortless, and therefore better than answer B. That's another reason why we encourage students to read every answer choice, even after finding one that looks really good. Sometimes there is something better waiting for you!
Adam M. Tyson
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