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June 2007, Logical Reasoning 1, Question 19


Question 19, question 19 is a strengthen question. No surprise there, it uses the word strengthen, but it also uses the word except, so it's a strengthen except question. In a normal strengthen question, one answer will support the argument's assumptions and four won't. On a strengthen except, it's the other way around.

Four answer choices will strengthen the argument, and one of them won't. It could either weaken the argument or just be irrelevant to it. To strengthen an argument, you need to know its assumptions. And to know its assumptions, you need to know the argument's structure, its conclusion, and its evidence. The conclusion here is nicely flagged by the words, I conclude that.

So the historian's conclusion is that the success of the Land Party in 1935 was due to the Land Party's addressing the concerns of the rural poor and the depth of the problems that they faced. The first sentence gives us a little bit of setup evidence. The Land Party achieved its only victory in 1935, and it got most of its support that year in rural and semirural areas.

And the next sentence tells us two things. The first is that the problems of the economy were the worst in those areas that were rural and semirural. And that the Land Party specifically targeted those groups in 1935. Now this is ultimately a causal argument, and causal arguments all have very similar assumptions.

First, that it wasn't something else that caused them to win the election in 1935, either something else good they did, something bad that someone else did. And that it wasn't just a coincidence, they didn't just happen to win and also happen to target the voters in those areas that year. We could be a little more specific with the assumptions in this argument, and say that it also assumes that economic issues are things that cause you to go vote.

So we know that they were targeting economics, we know that people voted for them, but are those two things connected? So let's go to the answer choices. Answer choice A, in preceding elections, the Land Party made no attempt to address the interests of economically distressed urban groups. It's that word urban that really turns this answer choice around, because it starts out pretty good.

If 1935 were the first year that the Land Party targeted the rural voters, then that would be relevant. But finding out that they didn't target urban voters in the years where they failed doesn't do anything to the argument or its assumptions. So answer choice A fails to strengthen the argument. Now let's look at the other answers just to see why they are wrong, or in this case, why they strengthen.

Answer choice B strengthens the assumption that economic things can motivate voters. The Land Party was focusing on economics, and if you focus on the problems that people have, people tend to vote for you. Answer choice C helps to prove that it wasn't something else. If most of the success they had came during periods of economic distress, then it's pretty reasonable to conclude that their focus on economics was what was helping them.

Answer choice D, no other major party in Banestria was doing those things. This helps support the idea that it wasn't a coincidence, it was something that they were doing that was helping them out. Answer choice E, the more economic distress you're in, the more likely you are to vote. Well, that would help prove that it was their focus on economics that helped them, because they were motivating the sorts of voters who were going to show up at the polls.

So answer choices B through E strengthen the argument, answer choice A does not, and so it's our answer.

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