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#4 - The theory of military deterrence was based on a simple

Adam Tyson
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Good questions, Blueballoon5%, as well as an interesting user name! Let me see if I can help.

To your first question: How is the conclusion a mistaken reversal? It's not! You are absolutely right to note that "fear of" and "belief in" are NOT the same thing. But our explanation didn't say that it WAS a mistaken reversal - it said it was "similar to" a mistaken reversal, which it is, especially when you realize that in order to fear retaliation you must first believe that retaliation is possible. That is, fear requires some level of belief, so saying you fear something DOES mean that, to some extent at least, you believe in it. Don't get too hung up on the technical details, especially of the explanations, which are there only to assist you along the way and not to dictate exactly what you should do or what is exactly right or wrong.

To your second question: How are belief and certainty not the same? That's easy! I believe that the next time I take the LSAT I will get a 180. Is that the same as knowing that I absolutely will get that score? Nope! Some people believe in Bigfoot but don't have certain knowledge of his existence. "Certain knowledge", if you interpret it to mean "knowledge with absolute certainty", is way too, well, certain! Now, some folks interpret that phrase ("certain knowledge") another way, meaning "some actual knowledge" - in other words, they would-be aggressor has to know at least some information about the retaliatory capabilities of a nation they might attack (like knowing that they have nuclear weapons, or that they have a large, well-equipped army, etc.) But even with this interpretation, belief does not EVER require knowledge. They might THINK they know something about the other nation, but they might not actually KNOW a darn thing! Everything they think they know could be false, maybe because the other nation did such a good job with propaganda that they fooled everyone into thinking they had some capacity that they don't actually have. All smoke and mirrors, like the Great and Powerful Oz!

Expanding on your second question, then, we look at answer D and your concerns about the explanation. Here's what we are trying to say there: having belief doesn't require any knowledge, as discussed above, but having knowledge can, at least to some extent, require belief. If you KNOW that the other nation has the ability to destroy you when they retaliate, then you have to BELIEVE that they have that ability. Knowledge requires belief! Think of anything that you know to be true. Don't you also believe that it's true? If you didn't believe it was true, then you would not claim to know that it was true, would you? Belief is not sufficient for knowledge, but knowledge is sufficient for belief.

Now to your third question: Answer C is saying that one nation not attacking another nation proves (is sufficient to establish) that they fear retaliation. We cannot prove this from the stimulus because "maintaining deterrence" is not the same as just not being attacked. Not every nation is a would-be aggressor, because some may be your friends and allies. It could be that a decision not to attack another nation may be based not on a fear of retaliation, but only on a mutual interest in peace and cooperation. Answer D is not about letting all nations know you have the ability to retaliate, but about letting only "potential aggressors" know. Your friends and allies may or may not know - you don't have to tell everyone, just the ones that you are concerned might decide to make trouble. Canada's decision not to invade the U.S. may not be about fear, but about friendship. North Korea, on the other hand, needs to know that we are not to be messed with. North Korea is a "potential aggressor", but Canada, at least for the time being until we really, seriously screw things up, is not. See what I mean?

Keep at it! Let us know if we can be more help to you along the way.
Adam M. Tyson
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jessicamorehead
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Hi there,

I am confused between answer choices C and D. Aren't they essentially saying the same thing? What makes D correct and C incorrect?
AthenaDalton
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Jessica,

Thanks for your question!

Answer choice (D) tells us that it's in the best interests of a nation with "unsurpassed" military power to let other countries know about it, so that they will be deterred from attacking. This fits in with the argument's prompt -- that a nation will not attack another if it knows that it couldn't defend itself against a retaliatory attack.

Answer choice (C) makes a very different claim -- that if nation A fails to attack nation B, it means that nation A believes it could not survive a retaliatory attack from nation B. This is not properly inferred from the argument made in the prompt. There are a variety of reasons why nation A might refrain from attacking nation B. Maybe nations A and B are allies. Maybe they don't have anything to fight over. Maybe nation A is a former soviet state and nation B is an island nation on the other side of the world and they have no interest in each other. Answer choice (C)'s claim goes beyond what's discussed in the prompt, because it tends to imply that nations attacking one another is some kind of default mode. We don't have enough info from the prompt to make such a sweeping assumption. The narrower conclusion in (B) is the better choice.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck studying!

Athena Dalton
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AthenaDalton wrote:Hi Lawyered and sblum,

The flaw of mistaken reversal is as follows:

Stimulus: "[F]ear of retaliation makes a would-be aggressor nation hesitate before attacking and is often sufficient to deter it altogether from attacking."

Diagram: Fear of Retaliation :arrow: Deter Would-Be Aggressor From Attacking

Stimulus: "To maintain military deterrence, a nation would have to be believed to have retaliatory power so great that a potential aggressor nation would have reason to think that it could not defend itself against such retaliation."

Diagram: Deter Would-Be Aggressor From Attacking :arrow: Fear of Retaliation That Cannot Be Defended Against

We know from previous experience that just because A :arrow: B does not mean that B :arrow: A. But the speaker in the stimulus reasons like this, so we just have to go with it and apply the flawed reasoning.

I hope that makes sense. Good luck studying!

Athena Dalton


I am struggling with being able to identify conditional reasoning in stimuli such as this one.

Would someone please explain how one would be able to identify the necessary and sufficient conditions here? I am not noticing any conditional indicators. If anything the usage of "sufficient" in this stimulus would lead me to believe that what follows would be the sufficient condition (06/10/2018 at 14:12 EDIT: is "sufficient" in this stimulus referencing the text before? If yes, is this the sole reason why that text is the sufficient condition?). This is likely my fundamental problem as to why I get tripped up on questions with conditional elements.

Thanks in advance.
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Dave Killoran
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Hi LawCraft,

Thanks for the question! Don't worry, it takes some time for all the conditional ideas to fall into place. But slowly they will, and you'll find yourself rapidly analyzing these statements correctly :-D

In the sentence you refer to, you nailed it with your edit: the "sufficient" refers to the text before it. That's certainly tricky to see at first when you encounter this, but now you can add it to your arsenal of ideas about how they present these concepts. Next time you'll be even stronger!

Here's an analogous sentence that might help:


    The fear of crashing is often sufficient to deter people from driving too fast.

So, if someone has a fear of crashing, what does that tell you? They won't drive too fast.

If the above doesn't sound right, reverse it and see if it works. If someone won't drive too fast, do you then know for sure they fear crashing ? No, they could fear getting a ticket or getting in trouble. Since that doesn't work, you know it's the first relationship.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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LawCraft
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Thanks Dave - for your help and responding on a Sunday! It makes sense and your example helped solidify the point. Much appreciated! :)
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kwcflynn
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Hey!

I chose (D) as the correct answer, but I did not notice the flawed logic in the argument until it was pointed here. Could you explain further why it is flawed?

Thank you
Dave Killoran
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kwcflynn wrote:Hey!

I chose (D) as the correct answer, but I did not notice the flawed logic in the argument until it was pointed here. Could you explain further why it is flawed?

Thank you


I didn't write the original explanation here on page 1 (which is sad since this is one of my favorite questions ever), so what I did was go back into the original explanation and revise it substantially. The error should be a bit clearer, but then also why that "error" is not relevant in the way it normally would be.

If it's not totally clear from what I wrote, check some of the followup explanations from my colleagues on the earlier pages in this thread. They give different looks at the same error.

Thanks!

Update: I discovered how to change the post into my name, so if there's any questions on that explanation, feel free to let me know!
Dave Killoran
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