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 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.