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Lesson help relating to our Advanced Logical Reasoning Course.
 Zarie Blackburn
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We recently received the following question from a course student. An instructor will respond below!

Is there a correct way to prephrase a casual argument with a weaken question stem that changes from talking about many to some?
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I think, from a broad perspective, it's important to remember that prephrasing is a part of the natural progression of answering any question on the LSAT and while weaken questions often accompany "weak" arguments, arguments whose conclusions contain glaring holes or flaws in reasoning, there is no one "correct" way to prephrase any particular question, including weaken questions generally. In other words, the idea of the prephrase is assist in quickly identifying possible correct answers, it's a means of setting an expectation for what you would, prima facia, expect to see as the correct answer. That being said, the precise nature of what that expectation is depends your own subjective impression of the argument, and identification of any peculiar features or flaws. On a practical note, prephrasing shouldn't constitute a separate step outside of the usual "flow" in reading a question; that is to say, you shouldn't pause for some concerted length and prephrase what you think an answer; the prephrasing should come to you, as you're reading any parrticular stimulus on the test. You notice the subtle change in language, you notice that conclusion doesn't from the premises, you notice circular reasoning, etc. All of these things are glaring blemishes or that lend themselves to identification and prediction of a possible answers; it's a skill that is developed over time, but shouldn't take time, especially not longer than the few moments of pausing between reading the stimulus, question stem, and answer choices.

Now, as to your specific question, a causal argument that changes from many to some in its language, with the change presumably occurring between its premises and the conclusion of the argument, may or may not be prephrasable, depending of the nature of the argument, and its reliance on the change in language. In other words, without more context, it's difficult to develop a rule of generality, especially one concerning prephrasing, due to its subjective as aforementioned, based on the change in language usage alone. Many is certainly distinct from some, but remember, from a logical perspective, both terms of rather vague. What does "some" actually mean? And how does it differ, precisely from some? Certainly both terms are neither "none," nor "all," but somewhere in between. Thus, I wouldn't be prepared to develop a general rule on the usage of some and many alone, without considering the context in which they are used.

I would invite you, however, to provide further context with respect to the question you are asking about, and I would also note that to the extent you are asking about argument qualification, as in qualifying the argument to leave it open to attack, it's still difficult, to develop a general rule to be prephrased, other than to consider the possible errors in usage of evidence discussed in the flaw in the reasoning lesson (lesson 7).

Let me know if you have questions about the above, and definitely feel free to expand on the question further if you would like.

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