June 2007, Logical Reasoning 2, Question 16

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Question 16, fill in the blank questions, ones that ask you what most logically complete the argument, require a little bit of extra work to figure out what type of question they are. Because it all depends on what they're asking you to fill in. Look to the key words in front of the blank to figure out what you're being asked to fill in.

Here, the word obviously indicates that we're being asked to fill in a conclusion. Obviously is a conclusory key word. So if we're being asked to fill in a conclusion, that makes this question an inference question. On an inference question, your job is to find something in the answer choices you can prove with the information you've been given in the original stimulus.

So go over the stimulus and break it down into digestible chunks of information. The first sentence tells us a few things about nations. They're not literally people, they don't have thoughts and feelings, they don't perform actions. The next sentence continues on and says that they also don't have moral rights or responsibilities.

The third sentence is more interesting. It tells us that there's a requirement for nations to survive. They can't survive unless many of the citizens attribute such rights and responsibilities to the nation. The rights and responsibilities that we learned in the first two sentences they don't have.

The second half of that sentence establishes another requirement. For nothing else could prompt people to make the sacrifices citizenship demands. That is, nothing other than thinking about their nations as though they had rights and responsibilities. So now we're looking for something that we can prove with all that, let's go to the answer choices.

Answer choice A says that the nations cannot continue to exist unless something other than the false belief, and there we've got a problem. This is contradicted by the information we've been given. The philosopher told us that nothing else could prompt people to make such sacrifices. Answer choice A is saying that something else, something other than the false belief, needs to be there.

We know that it can't because nothing else could do it. So go on to answer choice B, now this is gonna end up being our answer. Nations can't survive unless many of the citizens have some beliefs that are literally false. Remember, the first sentence established that nations are not literally people. They don't literally have moral rights and responsibilities.

But no nation can survive unless the citizens think that it has those kinds of responsibilities. So nations can't survive unless the citizens have some beliefs that are literally false. Since we can prove B is our answer, but let's look at the other answer choices to see why they're wrong.

Answer choice C is wrong because it talks about moral praise and blame. We don't know what is morally praiseworthy or blameworthy, according to the information we've been given. Just that people have to think about nations as though they have moral rights. Whether they could ever be the target of moral praise or blame, I don't know. Certainly, I don't know that it's a never, so answer choice C is wrong.

Answer choice D is wrong because even though this argument says a lot, it never says that the nations aren't worth the sacrifices. It doesn't take a stand on the sacrifices, just that they're required. Whether it's a good thing to sacrifice is beyond the information we've been given. And then answer choice E, should always be thought of in metaphorical rather than literal terms.

Well, I know that sometimes we have to think of them that way, but this always goes too far. I don't know that we always have to think of nations this way for them to survive. Only that you have to do it at least some of the time. So answer choice E is wrong, and answer choice B was our answer.

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