Critical Reasoning Question 6-Artistic Expression

The extent to which society is really free can be gauged by its attitude toward artistic expression.  Freedom of expression can easily be violated in even the most outwardly democratic societies.  When a government arts council withholds funding from a dance performance that its members deem “obscene,” the voices of a few bureaucrats have in fact censored the work of the choreographer, thereby committing the real obscenity of repression.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument above?

A.  Members of government arts councils are screened to ensure that their beliefs reflect those of the majority.

B.  The term obscenity has several different definitions that should not be used interchangeably for rhetorical effect.

C.  Failing to provide financial support for a performance is not the same as actively preventing or inhibiting it.

D.  The council’s decision could be reversed if the performance were altered to conform to public standards of appropriateness.

E.  The definition of obscenity is something on which most members of a society can agree.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is C.

The author equates the withholding of government funding with censorship.  (C), which denies that they’re the same thing, destroys the argument.  (A) is irrelevant.  That the council’s actions may reflect majority opinion wouldn’t justify what the author considers censorship-her definition isn’t dependent on what most people think.  (B) complains that the term obscenity is used ambiguously, but it’s the term censorship that’s the problem here.  (D) misses the whole point; in the author’s view, denial of funding amounts to censorship, and (D) simply reaffirms this.  And (E), like (A), points to majority opinion, but since the author never denies that most people can agree on what’s obscene, this is beside the point.

Enjoy All The Benefits

You don’t pay your first hour unless you find it a good fit.

Only pay for the time you need.

No subscriptions or upfront payments.

Find Tutors Near You

- OR -

call us for free to setup tutoring

(800) 417-9186

Critical Reasoning Question Types-Strengthen Or Weaken Questions Pt 2

Kaplan Strategy

For a Strengthen or Weaken Question, keep the following in mind:

  • Weakening an argument is not the same as disproving a conclusion-and strengthening is not the same as proving.  A weakener tips the scale toward doubting the conclusion, while a strengthener tips the scale toward believing in the validity of the conclusion;
  • The wording will always take the form of, “Which one of the following, if true, would most [weaken or strengthen] the argument?”  The “if true” part means that you have to accept the validity of the choice right off the bat, no matter how unlikely is may sound.
  • Wrong answer choices in these questions often have the opposite of the desired effect.  So if you’re asked to strengthen a stimulus argument, a wrong choice will likely contain information that actually weakens the argument.  And when asked to weaken a stimulus, one answer choice is sure to strengthen the argument.  Pay attention to what the question stem is asking.

Sample Stems

The stems associated with these two question types are usually self-explanatory.  Here’s a list of what you can expect to see on Test Day:

Weaken:

  • Which one of the following, if true, would most weaken the argument above?
  • Which one of the following, if true, would most seriously damage the argument above?
  • Which one of the following, if true, casts the most doubt on the argument above?
  • Which one of the following, if true, is the most serious criticism of the argument above?

Strengthen:

  • Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the argument?
  • Which of the following, if true, would provide the most support for the conclusion in the argument above?
  • The argument above would be more persuasive if which one of the following were found to be true?

It’s also common that the question stem explicitly refers to part of the argument.  You might, for example, see the following:

Which of the following, if true, casts the most doubt on the author’s conclusion that the Brookdale Public Library does not meet the requirements of the new building code?

This example illustrates another advantage of Basic Principle 2: Reading the question stem first.  Here we would be told outright what the author’s conclusion is, making the reading of the stimulus much easier to manage.

Enjoy All The Benefits

You don’t pay your first hour unless you find it a good fit.

Only pay for the time you need.

No subscriptions or upfront payments.

Find Tutors Near You

- OR -

call us for free to setup tutoring

(800) 417-9186
Free Call To Setup Tutoring