Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (E)
The author is arguing that the practice of subsidizing energy production to help rural residents gain
access to electricity has failed. Her reason is that even with the subsidy, many of the most isolated
rural areas still have no access to electricity. You should immediately recognize this as an error in
the use of evidence: just because the subsidy has not benefitted everyone it was intended to benefit
does not make it a complete failure. Some evidence against a position does not necessarily prove the
Remember—the key to determining the error of reasoning is to focus on the connection between the
premises and the conclusion, not on whether the premises are factually true. In this instance, it would
have been counterproductive to argue that all rural areas do have access to electricity. Instead, focus
on how the premises were used to support the conclusion.
Answer choice (A): The author does not assume that all rural populations would have gained access
to electricity if the subsidy had not existed. This answer choice is incorrect.
Answer choice (B): The premise upon which the conclusion is based has nothing to do with the
subsidy benefitting those whom it was not intended to benefit. On the contrary: the author is arguing
that the subsidy has not yet benefitted some of those whom it was intended to benefit. This answer
choice is incorrect.
Answer choice (C): The author never discussed whether the subsidy in question has any purpose other
than benefitting rural populations gain access to electricity. The scope of this argument is limited to
whether the subsidy is a failure, given that it has not benefitted everyone it was intended to benefit.
Answer choice (D): The possibility described in this answer is irrelevant to the conclusion of the
argument. Even if many urban residents did rely on the energy subsidy to gain access to electricity,
that would neither weaken nor strengthen the position that the subsidy has failed to achieve its
intended purpose. Recall that the only purpose of the subsidy is to help rural, not urban, populations
gain access to electricity. Any tangential benefit that some other populations can derive from the
subsidy is immaterial.
Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer: just because the subsidy did not help some rural
residents does not preclude the possibility that it did help other rural residents. After all, there is no
evidence that the purpose of the subsidy was to help every single rural resident. Note that there are
many ways in which test makers could have phrased this answer choice:
- “takes for granted that the intended purpose of the subsidy is to help all rural residents gain
access to electricity”
“presumes, without justification, that if a subsidy has no benefit for some of those whom it
was intended to benefit, then that subsidy has failed to achieve its intended purpose”
“ignores the possibility that a subsidy can achieve its intended purpose even without
benefiting all of those whom it was intended to benefit”
As always, it is important to identify the logical flaw, but do not assume that there is only one way to
describe it. Be flexible with your prephrase.