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#22 - Consumer advocate: Economists reason that price

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So this was the hardest question in this section for me.
I actually don't understand what E means.
I chose B but was not sure about this neither...but did not pick E because I just did not understand it's meaning.
Could anyone give us an explanation about deconstruct this sentence?
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Did anyone answer this question? I also chose B and would like to know why it is wrong and E is correct.

Thank you!
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It makes sense to me why E is a better answer after reviewing the question. but do you mind explaining why A is incorrect? I tend to get confused over the use of "denying/refuting/disputing/rejecting" in method questions.
Jonathan Evans
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Good question. As usual, having an accurate, concise description of the argument in your own words is the best way to get Method of Reasoning questions right.

But let's assume that we're a little shaky on what's going on here. In that case, you need to match the elements of the answer choice to the corresponding concepts in the passage. Answer Choice (A) claims that the claim about "willingness not being proportional to need" disputes one explanation to make way for another explanation. The first question you should ask yourself is, "What's the explanation here?" There is in fact no explanation; instead there is reasoning about the "efficiency" of markets. The consumer advocate reaches a different conclusion: price gouging is not efficient because he disputes the validity of the assumption that willingness to pay is in fact proportional to need in price gouging scenarios. Thus, we are not dealing with "explanations" here. Instead we are dealing with differing conclusions about some quality of price gouging: is it efficient or inefficient?

Lorettan102 and 15veries,

Let's check out the answer you chose. Let's see whether this statement works as a main conclusion. Certainly it has some reasoning backing it up in the subsequent statements about "the real world." However, are we done yet when we arrive at this claim about "willingness to pay not being proportional to need"? No actually, now we ask ourselves: so what? Why does this consumer advocate care that willingness to pay is not proportional to need?

He's telling us this because he disagrees with these economists. Specifically, what does he disagree with? He disagrees with their contention that price gouging is efficient. Thus it is not the main conclusion, rather it is a consideration that the consumer advocate offers to support a conclusion at odds with that of the economists. Answer Choice (E) gives a precise match for this scenario. The key word really is match!
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I originally chose (E), and then switched it to (A) on blind review.

I thought (A) was correct because the advocate arguing that "willingness to pay is not proportional to need" disputes the explanation that explains what results from price gouging...supposedly efficiency, because it "allocates goods to people whose willingness to pay more shows that they really need those goods." The advocate makes way for an alternative explanation, which is that what results from price gouging is not efficiency rather but allocation to "the people with the most money," not the highest willingness to pay.

I thought (E) was wrong because I didn't understand why it would be the case that the economists' argument assumes that "willingness to pay is proportional to need." In particular, I didn't think it was correct to think that the economists' necessarily assumed *proportionality.* They argued that price gouging resulted in efficiency because it "allocates goods to people whose willingness to pay more shows that they really need those goods." Why does that willingness have to be proportional? Yes, it must be true that there must be a Person A willing to pay, say, 100, and a Person B willing to pay only say 50; and it's also true that Person A must need those goods more than Person B, according to the stimulus. But why do the prices entail that Person A needs the goods exactly twice as much as Person B? The economists are only saying that willingness to pay varies and that need varies, not necessarily that they are proportional. (I know that in real life the economic theory is proportional, but didn't think I was warranted in making that assumption.)

I guess the answer is that the consumer advocate "takes it to be assumed," even if in fact it may not have been assumed?
James Finch
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Hi M,

The difference between answer choices (A) and (E) lies in the way the argument is structured. The consumer advocate is arguing against the economists' claim that price gouging is efficient by denying the premise upon which it is based, that willingness to pay corresponds with need. If answer (A) were correct, the consumer advocate woudl be agreeing with the economists' claim, but for a different reason. (E) is correct because it mirrors both the denial of the economists' premise ("denies a claim") and rejection of the conclusion ("reasoning it rejects").

Hope this helps!
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:x (ah Mad Emoji) I got tripped up on language again.

If (E) had said "It denies a claim that the argument relies upon in the reasoning that it rejects" I would have selected (E).

But the phrase "to be assumed" normally means not explicitly stated even though an assumption differs from a supposition in that the former is explicit. So, if I said to someone you are assuming that X causes Y, presumably they did not tell me the exact same thing.

So, I felt that Economists were not assuming pay/need proportionality but explicitly stating this as their justification. Is my understanding of the phrase "to be assumed" incorrect?

Adam Tyson
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You're right about what an assumption is, harvoolio, but making a minor misstep in comparing what was said to what was assumed. The economists didn't say "willingness to pay is proportional to need", but instead said "it allocates goods to people whose willingness to pay more shows that they really need those goods." The author is assuming that such people, and therefore such a relationship, actually exist!

By analogy:

"People who are blonde are over ten feet tall"


"People who are blonde and over ten feet tall are ruining this country."

The first one assumes nothing and says everything explicitly. The second one assumes that there are, in fact, blonde people over 10 feet tall. It's a pretty obvious assumption, but an assumption nonetheless.
Adam M. Tyson
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I don't understand what's the meaning of E? Could someone explain it?

E says "It denies a claim that the argument takes to be assumed in the reasoning that it rejects"

What's the claim? is it the premise that the economists host? "The price gouging allocates goods to people whose willingness to pay more shows that they really need those goods"

What's the argument? is it the economist conclusion that price gouging is efficient?
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I'm having a little structural problem with the recent stimulus, pt 78 and 79 seems to have introduced a new structure that undermined my old way of discerning the main conclusion. Before, whenever I see 2 conclusions I see which one supports the other, while both are possible to be supported by premises. This question, for example, the last sentence which supposed to be the main conclusion kind of support the refusal to the economist. In this case, is it because the conclusion indicator "as a result" present a tonal emphasis that brings out the main conclusion?