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#6 - Legislator: Your agency is responsible for regulating

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Complete Question Explanation

Method of Reasoning-CE. The correct answer choice is (B)

The Legislator argues that the Regulator purposely limited hiring in order to prevent the full extent of the scandal from being revealed, since the Regulator hired only 400 investigators instead of the 500 for which the Regulator had funds.

The Regulator replies that, in fact, the legislature froze the salaries for those potential 500 positions that not enough qualified applicants were interested in the job.

You are asked to identify how the Regulator responds, so you should focus on the fact that the Regulator mentions an additional bit of information. That information actually suggests that the legislature as a whole, rather than the Regulator, might be the more appropriate target of blame.

Answer choice (A) This answer choice might seem attractive, but it is incorrect. You should identify the Regulator's method, not the probable outcome of his method. Even though the Regulator's information might shift blame to the legislature, the important detail is that the Regulator emphasized additional information.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, and encompasses abstractly both the Regulator's method and his probable aim. The Regulator does provide information, and that information does challenge the Legislator's conclusion.

Answer choice (C) Since the Regulator did not go beyond the legislature's mandate, this choice seems immediately off-topic and incorrect. Furthermore, the legislature's mandate may have been impossible to satisfy, but that does not mean that the legislature's mandate for 500 investigators at the guideline salary would have been insufficient to investigate the scandal. Impossible and insufficient are not interchangeable concepts, and just because something is impossible does not mean that it could not be sufficient in a theoretical sense.

Answer choice (D) Since the Regulator challenges the Legislator's conclusion and offers additional evidence to do so, the Regulator does not offer a mere rephrase, so this choice is wrong.

Answer choice (E) The Regulator might try to contradict the Legislator's conclusion, but the Regulator does not show that the Legislator's statements are self-contradictory, so this choice is wrong. You should not assume that since the legislature's mandate seems internally contradictory or at least self-defeating, the Legislator's argument is as well.
Toby
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Hello!

I have two questions about answer choices D and E. Is answer choice D essentially describing a straw man argument? On a similar note, is answer choice E describing an internal contradiction flaw?

My reason for asking these questions is determining whether a description of a "Flaw in the Reasoning" flaw could ever be a correct answer for a Method of Reasoning question. In other words, when I am completing a Method of Reasoning question, can I eliminate answer choices that describe flaws?

Thanks!
Francis O'Rourke
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Hi Toby,

Answer choice (E) does describe an internal contradiction. The phrase 'self-contradictory' indicates this.

Answer choice (D) is a bit trickier to figure out. Rephrasing someone else's conclusion in a different light may be a straw man error, but it's also valid at times to rephrase a conclusion. Consider the following exchange:

Concerned citizen: The city council just approved legislation that will mean the deaths of dozens of people on our roads every year!
Council Member: What this legislation will do is cut the number of fatal accidents in the city in half, from 82 per year to 41 per year.


In this situation, the council member is not making a straw man but is rephrasing a conclusion in more favorable terms. Since answer choice (D) does not match up with anything that the regulator stated, we don't know if choice (D) describes a straw man flaw; it may also describe a necessary correction in other contexts, such as the example I provided.


More importantly, do not discount common flaws in reasoning on questions such as this! If one speaker commits a flaw, it is possible that the respondent will see this and point out the flaw.
Toby
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Okay, that makes sense. Is it safe to conclude that straw man arguments are characterized by excessive restatement of an argument that completely misconstrues the original speaker's argument?
Francis O'Rourke
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I'm not sure what you mean by 'excessive.' Let me know where you see that occurring.

Otherwise, I would just slightly change your definition to the following: restatement of an argument that completely misconstrues distorts the original speaker's argument. When you say "completely misconstrues" I'm not sure if you mean that the respondent misunderstands the original argument. It may be the case that you misunderstand another person's argument when you commit the straw man error, but you may also intentionally distort the original argument to suit your needs.
Toby
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Alright, your definition makes sense. Thanks!
egarcia193
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Could you provide a further explanation of why A is wrong over B I choose B and correctly eliminated A but I just want to make sure my reasoning was correct in eliminating A and why B is a superior answer than A. I eliminated A because it blamed the legislature for the scandals and we don't know what caused the scandals or who's to blame and furthermore, the regulator isn't as much putting all the blame on the legislator although it is implied that they are more at fault than he is but is really saying that the real reason he couldn't hire 500 people was because of this fact which he uses not really to place blame on the legislature but to more or less cover his own skin by proving that he wasn't acting to hide the scandals as the legislator thinks. I kind of saw it more as a self-interest defense where he does place blame on the legislature but that is not his purpose in the argument rather it's to save his hide by saying because of this other fact I couldn't do this which in turn proves I am not corrupt.
hopefully, i made sense trying to explain this, could you please let me know if my reasoning was valid or if there was something i missed

thank you
Francis O'Rourke
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It sounds like you have the main idea down. The legislature might be shifting the responsibility for the number of hirings to the legislature, but the regulator is not directly shifting the blame for the scandal onto them. That is a possible inference, as the administrator described in the post above.