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#19 - Geneticist: Genes, like viruses, have a strong

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Complete Question Explanation

Justify the Conclusion. The correct answer choice is (B)

In this stimulus, a geneticist states that genes have a strong tendency to self-replicate in a manner similar to that of viruses. Based on this fact, some biologists call genes “selfish.” Although the term is not meant to reflect the attitudes or intentions underlying this behavior, the geneticist concludes that the term “selfish” is misapplied to genes, because selfishness only concerns behavior that is best for oneself, and that replicating one’s self is not selfish:


    Premise:

    Selfish ..... :arrow: ..... concerns behavior that is best for oneself

    From the above statement we can also draw the contrapositive:


    concerns behavior that is best for oneself ..... :arrow: ..... Selfish

    Conclusion:

    Gene: ..... self-replicating ..... :arrow: ..... selfish

Since we are asked to find the answer that would justify this conclusion, we should be looking for an answer choice that makes the conclusion of the stimulus undeniable. We should choose the answer choice which would force the conclusion to follow, by tying together the “rogue elements” of the above conditional argument: self-replication and behavior that is not necessarily selfish.

Answer choice (A): The relative importance of selfishness vs. altruism is irrelevant to the geneticist’s argument, and the notion of bringing about the best conditions for others is not discussed in the stimulus. Further, it is clear that this answer choice does not provide the link as prephrased above, and does not justify the conclusion that about the applicability of the term “selfish” to replicating genes.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. “Creating replicas of oneself (otherwise known as self-replicating) does not help bring about the best conditions for oneself” can be diagrammed as follows:

    Self-replicating ..... :arrow: ..... concerns behavior that is best for oneself

We can link this with the premise from the stimulus, as follows:

    Self-replicating ..... :arrow: ..... concerns behavior that is best for oneself ..... :arrow: ..... Selfish

As we can see, this extra premise links the elements discussed above, and in so doing justifies the conclusion that self-replication is not selfish, and that such a characterization represents a misnomer.

Answer choice (C): Since the geneticist is concerned with the use of selfish in the behavioral sense, referring to the described use as a misnomer, the geneticist’s opinion must be that the same rules should apply, and that there is compatibility between the behavioral and everyday definitions of “selfish.” Since this answer choice is contrary to the information provided in the stimulus, it cannot justify the geneticist’s conclusion.

Answer choice (D): The geneticist does not ignore the fact that self-replication is a phenomenon that is not limited to genes, and in fact acknowledges that viruses do this as well. The assertion in this answer choice is inapplicable to the geneticist, who does not ignore this fact, so this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (E): According to the stimulus, biologists do have sufficient evidence to determine the applicability of the term selfish. The geneticist just believes that they should not call self-replication selfish, based on current knowledge. Since the geneticist has already rendered an opinion, it cannot be the case that an assumption of the argument is that there is insufficient evidence to do so, and biologists presumably have access to the same evidence as geneticists. This answer choice should therefore be eliminated.