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#19 - Professor: It has been argued that freedom of thought

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Complete Question Explanation

Justify the Conclusion-SN. The correct answer choice is (C)

Whenever the stimulus begins by outlining someone else's argument, you can be sure that the author's conclusion will be the exact opposite of theirs. The best approach for understanding the gist of the stimulus is to simplify its premises and conclusions and quickly diagram the conditional relationships that underlie them. It is crucial to focus only on the most important aspects of the argument and not get distracted by unnecessary details (such as why freedom of thought might arguably be a precondition for intellectual progress):

    Premise: ..... Intellectual Progress .......... Intellectual Discipline (IP requires ID)

    Conclusion: ..... Intellectual Progress .......... Freedom of Thought (FT not necessary for IP)

The conclusion only follows if intellectual discipline and freedom of thought were incompatible with one another, i.e. if intellectual discipline precludes freedom of thought (or, alternatively, if freedom of thought precludes intellectual discipline). A quick scan through the five answer choices reveals that only answer choice (C) matches this description.

Answer choice (A): By implying that intellectual discipline might hinder intellectual progress, this answer choice actually weakens the author's conclusion and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (B): What value a society places on intellectual progress is irrelevant to this argument, and placing a high value on such progress is certainly not required to justify the conclusion. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. If freedom of thought and intellectual progress are mutually exclusive, i.e. if the presence of one invariably leads to the absence of the other, the conclusion that freedom of thought is not a precondition for intellectual progress is fully justified. Notice the strong language used by answer choice (C): thinkers invariably lack intellectual discipline. This is a common feature of correct answers in Justify the Conclusion questions, as their goal is to definitively prove the conclusion.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice supports the counterargument that the author is attempting to refute and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (E): This answer choice is only attractive because it addresses some of the elements that we need to connect in order to prove the conclusion. Unfortunately, establishing that intellectual discipline is necessary for having freedom of thought does not amount to a definitive proof of the conclusion.
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I attempted to diagram this stimulus and came up with a waaaaaaaaaay more complicated diagram.

Sentence 1:
-Freedom of thought -> Intellectual Progress (PREMISE OF ARGUED THEORY)
[Side note, seeing the phrase "it has been argued" indicated to me that the professor will likely believe opposite of this argument.]
-Freedom of thought -> Allows thinkers to pursue ideas regardless of offending/direction (PREMISE OF ARGUED THEORY)
Sentence 2:
-Intellectual Progress -> Full implications of interrelated ideas (PREMISE OF PROFESSOR)
-Intellectual Progress->Intellectual Discipline (PREMISE OF PROFESSOR)
Sentence 3:
-Professor does not agree that Freedom of thought -> Intellectual Progress (CONCLUSION OF PROFESSOR)

Narrowed down to answer choices, B, C, and E. Eliminated B, because this was a part of the argued theory's premise. Left with C and E and at this point I was beyond confused and abandoned the question to look at explanations on student center.

Any ideas on how to clear this up for me would be greatly appreciated... :-? :-? :cry: :cry: :cry:
Steven Palmer
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The key with justify questions is often to look for a missing link between the stimulus's premises and the stimulus's conclusion.

The unexplained premise in the professor's argument is that thinkers need intellectual discipline, and thus (his conclusion) that the argument for freedom of thought fails. Where did this intellectual discipline idea come from? It came out of nowhere and was never tied into the argument except that it was the main premise to determine the conclusion.

For these reasons, you were right to narrow your answer choices to (C) and (E). The next step is to link intellectual discipline with the rest of the argument. When we reread the sentence involving intellectual discipline, the whole point is that in order to have intellectual progress, we need intellectual discipline. The professor then concludes that we cannot, thus, have freedom of thought. A great prephrase here would be that we, thus, don't have any intellectual discipline. (C) says this, while (E) says largely the opposite.

Hope this helped!
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Some people argue: Intellectual Progress -----> Freedom of thought

(but, these people are wrong) because:

Intellectual Progress ------>Mine full Implications--------->Discipline

Answer C

If Freedom of thought -----> NOT Discipline, Now take the contrapositive, if Discipline then NOT Freedom of Thought .

Now, we can feed this new statement into our statement above:

Intellectual Progress------>Mine Full Implications-------->Discipline--------> NOT Freedom of thought
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Hi! Could someone help explain how the conclusion in the stimulus ("There, this argument for freedom of thought fails") is then translated to the conditional statement ("Intellectual Progress → NO Freedom of Thought")?


My guess: In order to attack the argument in the first sentence, we need to attack the conditional statement made in the first sentence. To attack a conditional statement, we negate the necessary condition.

First sentence (conditional statement): IP :arrow: FT
Conclusion (attacking first sentence): IP :arrow: NO FT
James Finch
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Hi Blueballoon,

The first sentence is the statement that the stimulus is arguing against. In order to successfully do that, the stimulus will have to show that, as you note, the presence of the sufficient condition actually leads to the lack of the necessary condition, or the contrapositive, that the presence of the necessary condition leads to the lack of the sufficient condition.

So in arguing against:

IP :arrow: FoT

The stimulus will have to prove either:

IP :arrow: FoT


FoT :arrow: IP

What the stimulus ends up doing is arguing:

IP :arrow: MFI :arrow: ID

Which means we still need either

ID :arrow: FoT


FoT :arrow: ID

Our correct answer choice (C) ends up giving us:

FoT :arrow: ID

Thus logically completing the argument in the stimulus.

Hope this helps!