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Complete Question Explanation

Strengthen. The correct answer choice is (D)

From the first sentence in this stimulus, you should anticipate that the author would have a problem with most business ethics courses and textbooks: they fail to provide a framework for understanding specific principles. Such courses must therefore include abstract ethical theory. The biggest problem with this conclusion is the absence of any explanation as to why abstract ethical theory would be any better at achieving this goal.

To strengthen the argument, look for an answer choice that addresses the rogue element in the conclusion by explaining the benefits of teaching abstract ethical theory. A quick scan across the five answer choices allows you to quickly eliminate answer choices (A), (B), and (E) simply because they do not mention "abstract ethical theory." This leaves us with answer choices (C) and (D).

Answer choice (A): There is no indication that considering specific cases and principles somehow amounts to a moralizing approach. This answer choice provides no support for the conclusion and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice does not explain why abstract ethical theory is useful in providing a framework for understanding specific principles and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (C): This is perhaps the strongest decoy here, and it is particularly tempting if you tend to forget the specific elements of the conclusion and retain only a general impression of it. The argument is not about behaving ethically: it is about understanding specific principles of ethics. Answer choice (C) is a Shell Game answer that strengthens a somewhat similar but substantively different conclusion from the one in the stimulus.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. Remember that extreme language is perfectly acceptable in Strengthen questions (unlike Must Be True, for instance). If abstract ethical theory is the most appropriate context for understanding specific principles, then it is undoubtedly useful to have it included in the ethics courses and textbooks.

Answer choice (E): The author is not arguing for a "wide range" of specific principles; merely that there should be a framework for understanding them, for which abstract ethical theory is particularly useful. This answer choice makes no mention of why abstract ethical theory is so useful, and is therefore incorrect.
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when I read the question stem " it looked like a justify question" and when I read the answer choices , I approached it in the sense that I have to find the most one to strength the stimulus which was D. Now my question is when you see the wording "Most Help to justify or most justify " in the question stem. would you approached it like a Justify question or a strength approach.

Thank you
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 Dave Killoran
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This is a Strengthen question. However, that is not all that different from a Justify question, because the two are closely related. You can think of a Justify question as a sort of super-Strengthen question.

The idea of Justifying an argument is to Strengthen the argument 100%. Inherent in the word "Justify" is that concept, and when they use the idea of Justification, they want the argument to be bulletproof. So, when they use a phrase like "most helps to Justify," they are taking away that 100% requirement, and then the question becomes a regular Strengthen question. If you could find an answer that would Justify the argument that would be great (and the correct answer), but the question stem is telling you that you don't need an answer quite that powerful for it to be correct. You just want the answer that Strengthens the argument the most. So approach it like a Strengthen question.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
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Great thank you !
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If we are supposed to approach this question as a strengthen question, then why are we looking for a way to link rogue elements of the conclusion in the correct answer choice? Is this because of the supporter role strengthen questions sometimes take? If so, does this mean that looking for rogue elements in the conclusion or in the premises but not both of a "justify" question isn't necessarily a clue exclusive to "justify" questions?
 Robert Carroll
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To Justify a conclusion is to prove the conclusion true. To Strengthen an argument is to make the conclusion more likely to be true. So certainly, justifying the conclusion will strengthen an argument. Thus, a tool that we might use in Justify questions isn't completely alien to Strengthen questions. The course book, in fact, talks about this: page 4-17:

"Many Assumption Justify the Conclusion, and Strengthen questions require you to find the missing link between a premise and the conclusion."

The idea of a rogue element is not unique to Justify questions. And it doesn't make sense for it to be so: justifying is just strengthening to a perfect degree. So anything that justifies must strengthen (though not necessarily vice versa). So, anything that properly answers a Justify question must have properly answered a Strengthen, and the concepts that do the former are often helpful to do the latter.

Robert Carroll
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Hello! I'm not totally sure why (C) is incorrect. The post says that (C) is playing the shell game, but I want to dig a little deeper. When I read that choice, it seems like I translated it as:

in order to have an obligation to behave ethically --> acquaint with abstract ethical theory.

The sufficient condition here is pretty reasonable because why would someone enroll in an ethics class if they didn't want to behave ethically? This is essentially validating the conclusion by showing another way to get there.

Also, what if this answer choice read something like "acquaint with abstract ethical theory -->in order to have an obligation to behave ethically"? Would it strengthen the conclusion?

(D) on the other hand says abstract ethical theory is centrally important, which is fair but it's just repeating what's in the conclusion of the argument rather than strengthening it. Thanks!
 Luke Haqq
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Hi soupynoodles14!

Happy to address why answer choice (C) is incorrect.

To begin, the conclusion of this stimulus is in the final sentence: "This approach fails to provide a framework for understanding specific principles and should thus be changed to include abstract ethical theory." Next, we're given a strengthen question stem.

This final sentence brings in a couple new elements. While the first sentence of the stimulus mentions "specific principles," for example, the final sentence mentions "understanding" specific principles, which is different. In addition, "abstract ethical theory" is also new to that final sentence. In short, the conclusion is that because the mentioned approach fails to guarantee that students understand specific principles in business ethics, it "should thus" (i.e., because of this) be changed to include abstract ethical theory. But there's nothing more in the stimulus to tell us anything about abstract ethical theory. What features of abstract ethical theory warrant the author's conclusion about what "should" be changed? Given the final sentence, we can presume that abstract ethical theory provides "a framework for understanding specific principles." The author underscores the importance of "understanding" specific principles and for that reason recommends changing a given approach to include abstract ethical theory.

The author is thus suggesting the following conditional reasoning:

Abstract Ethical Theory :arrow: Framework for Understanding Specific Principles
Answer choice (D) strengthens this relationship. It states that abstract ethical theory is the "most appropriate" way to understand specific principles. It therefore eliminates alternative possibilities. For example, if there were another route besides abstract ethical theory that provided a framework for understanding specific principles, then the author's conclusion wouldn't clearly follow as to why curriculum ought to be changed to include abstract ethical theory. Answer choice (D) is saying that the author's recommended solution is indeed the best solution for the problem that the author identifies, which is to say it strengthens the author's conclusion.

Answer choice (C) doesn't get to one of the new elements introduced in the conclusion, namely, "understanding" specific principles. Even in the alternative phrasing of the answer choice you pose, answer choice (C) still doesn't mention this new element of "understanding" specific principles. Consequently, it can't ultimately address the author's conclusion that the failure of a given curriculum to provide "understanding" warrants changing the curriculum to include abstract ethical theory.

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