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#23 - Editorial: A recently passed law limits freedom of

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Complete Question Explanation

Weaken. The correct answer choice Is (E)

Because silencing dissenters has historically led to the establishment of authoritarian regimes, the author concludes that those responsible for the passage of the law – which seeks to silence dissenters – must be ignorant of history.

Observant test-takers will notice the causal reasoning that underlies this argument:

    Cause ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... Effect

    Ignorance of history ..... :arrow: ..... ..... Passage of new law

To understand the flaw in this argument, consider whether ignorance of history is really the only explanation for passing a law that silences dissenters. Isn’t that a bit too naïve? Maybe the authors of the law are keenly aware of the fact that such laws tend to promote to the establishment of authoritarian regimes and actively seek to establish such a regime? In other words, it is perfectly possible that even those not ignorant of history may want to repeat its patterns, i.e. to promote undemocratic policies and the establishment of authoritarian regimes. Answer choice (E) is therefore correct.

Answer choice (A): While it is entirely possible that the law has multiple purposes, the author is under no obligation to consider them. He should have examined what other reasons might explain the passage of the new law, not whether or not the law has alternate purposes. Since the author’s only goal is to address a specific purpose of the law and explain the potential undesirable consequences which may result from accomplishing that purpose, this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice states a principle justifying the passage of the new law. Since the author does not attempt to prove that law is unjustifiable, he need not take into account the principles that might justify it. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): Just because laws silencing dissenters have occasionally had an effect contrary to the one presented in the argument does not mean that the author should have taken this fact into account. She was careful to suggest that silencing dissenters tends to promote undemocratic policies, not that it always does. Because the author describes the impact of silencing dissenters as a tendency and not a certainty, her argument is not contradicted or weakened by this answer choice.

Answer choice (D): The author’s argument is entirely compatible with this answer choice. Whether other, similarly ignorant lawmakers have passed good laws is irrelevant.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. See discussion above.
mN2mmvf
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I don't quite understand the reasoning for why not A: "He should have examined what other reasons might explain the passage of the new law, not whether or not the law has alternate purposes." Is it not reasonable to assume that alternate purposes for the law *are* the other reasons that might explain passage? I get that it's possible a legislator could support a law for reasons other than what the law intends to do, but that's a level of cynicism that doesn't seem reasonable to me to assume; but it does seem reasonable to assume that a legislator supports a proposed law because of what the proposed law seeks to do.

If it's true that the law may have other purposes in addition to silencing dissenters, perhaps those other purposes are to promote undemocratic policies and the establishment of authoritarian regimes. In that case, it wouldn't be true that those passing the law must be ignorant of a great deal of history. They'd actually be quite aware of it.
Adam Tyson
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Looks like this might be a case, similar to another of your recent posts that I responded to recently, where you might be helping the answer a bit too much. I had the same thought as you, with a prephrase along the lines of "fails to consider that the people who passed the law might want to promote undemocratic policies." For that reason, A looked attractive at first. But then I realized, as you should, that answer A doesn't tell us anything about what those other purposes are. Without knowing more, it could still be the case that there are other purposes AND that the people who passed the law remain ignorant of the lessons of history, and it was that claim (they are ignorant) that we were supposed to weaken.

If those other purposes were to promote undemocratic policies, then the argument would be weakened. If those other purposes were to increase tax revenues, for example, then that would have no impact. We need more info before we can determine whether A weakens or not, and so it is not as good an answer as E.

Again, don't help the answers! Let them stand or fall on their own.

Keep at it!
Adam M. Tyson
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bk1111
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Could this also be seen as a mistaken reversal fallacy?

Ignorant of history -> Repeat patterns

Therefore,

Repeat patterns (silencing dissenters) -> Ignorant of history?
Adam Tyson
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Absolutely, bk1111! That's exactly the problem with this stimulus! Nicely done.
Adam M. Tyson
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freddythepup
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Hi, can you please explain how the mistaken reversal works? When I was going through this problem, I diagrammed it as:

IH (ignore history) --> Repeat patterns
SD (Silence dissenters) -->Tend to promote UD policies/authoritarian

-------
Conclusion: PL (pass law /RP) -->IH

I get the assumption here is that IH will cause you to PL. But I'm not sure how E works to show the flaw. Even if those who are not ignorant of history may repeat patterns/pass the law. I get how if we diagram this, we will get
not IH ---> RP/PW
which means that without the sufficient (or cause), the necessary (effect) still holds, which proves effect without cause. But it does not make sense to me without this diagram, because I think E is similar to A or C in that it's talking about another possibility, which doesn't necessarily disprove what we have in the stimulus. Can you please walk me through this? Thanks!
Jennifer Janowsky
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Freddy,

Let's step back a bit and try to look at this question as more than a diagram.

If you think about all this without the diagrams, it goes like this: Those who are ignorant of history will repeat it's failures. Those who passed this law must therefore be ignorant of history, because it has failed in the past. The issue here is this: although being ignorant of history is a sufficient condition to lead to repeating a failure, it is not necessary in order to repeat a failure. That is why (E) is the best answer--it points out that just because someone repeated a failure, does not mean they were necessarily ignorant.

This is the part of the question that is mistaken reversal: IH --> RP was mistakenly taken in the argument to mean RP --> IH. The correct reversal, in reality, would have been Not RP --> Not IH. Answer (E) points out this flaw.