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Critical Reasoning Example #2


In the previous lesson, we demonstrated an approach to a more complicated critical reasoning question. In this lesson, we will do one more critical reasoning problem of a similar difficulty level. So, here's the question itself. Pause the video and read the prompt.

Okay, we want to know which of the following would weaken the argument? Pause the video again, and analyze all the answer choices. Now, we'll talk about this. So, an industry analyst is saying the following. Over the past ten years, the wages of factory workers at the Hamport Steelworks have increased by 35%, and this increase is less than the increase in the cost of living due to inflation over the same period.

Representatives of these factory workers have presented a petition to the factory owners, charging them with not offering a living wage. In other words, a wage that would allow them to live at the same level. The owners have responded that, while these unfortunate facts are true, they are also true for the wages of all workers in similar industries throughout the economy of Hamport and surrounding areas, and thus are inescapable consequences of this economic environment.

This assertion of the owners group is flawed because the revenue generated by factory workers surely could be redistributed to provide the workers with a more livable wage. So, hence the argument, and notice that everything is factual. So, we get the representative presenting the petition, that's factual. The owners responded.

So, that's the owner's opinion. So, it's factual that they responded that way. And then, the final part is the conclusion. Its the conclusion of the industry analyst. This assertion of the owner's group is flawed. So, now we want to weaken the argument and this is very tricky.

We want to weaken the argument of the industry analyst. Now, the industry analyst is saying that the owner's argument is wrong. We're not trying to weaken the owner's argument and agree with the industry analyst, we're trying to weaken the industry analyst's argument. So, why is it, that the industry analyst is wrong? And, that there's at least a grain of truth to what the owners are saying, that's what we're trying to figure out here.

So, which of the following would weaken the industry analyst argument. A, each owner draws a salary that is between 30 and 50 times the salary of the individual factory worker, so that certainly is not something that seems equitable. And, this is something if this were true, this would strengthen the industry analyst argument.

Because, in other words, if the owners was making that much money, surely they we could reduce there's their salary and redistribute it among the employees. So, this would strengthen the analyst's argument, and we don't want to strengthen the argument. We want to weaken it. B, the vast majority of the revenue generated by the factory must be redirected into marketing efforts that maintain relationship with buyers of the factory's goods.

Well, that's interesting. So, in other words, while they have a lot of revenue, they don't necessarily have a lot of profit because that revenue is going into necessary marketing channels. Necessary to maintain the revenue. And so, this is something that does seem to call into question the analyst's argument.

In other words, the analyst is saying well we could redistribute the revenue and the owners would come back with well, no we can't redistribute the revenue. So, this is something that would support the owner's position in a way. So, this one is at least promising. We'll come back to this. C, local business have a civic duty to offer a living wage that allows workers and their families to survive and prosper in the same community as the business.

Well, this is, first of all, more a moral charge rather than an economic position. And again, this is something that would be attacking the position of the owners. And, our job here is not to attack the position of the owners. So, this is incorrect. D, while outsourcing to the developing world has eliminated many other manufacturing jobs, the factory work at Hamport Steelworks requires specialized skills that the only workers there have.

So, this would be a reason why those workers deserve a higher wage, but again, this would be agreeing with the industry analyst. We want something that will strengthen the owner's position. So, this doesn't help us. E, another philosophical position. Most moral failings are not excused by the fact that a large number of other individuals or groups have committed the same failing.

So, again this would be a moral judgement about the owners excuse that, well, other factories are doing it. Well, that's not a good excuse, you know? In other words, if I'm beating little children and I, it's no excuse for me to say well other people are beating them also. If something is wrong, it's just wrong and it doesn't matter if other people are doing it.

And so, this would be attacking the owner's position, but we don't want to attack the owner's position. So, E is also wrong. The only one that actually makes problematic the analyst, the industry analyst's position, and supports the owner's which is really what the question is asking us to do, Is answer choice B.

And so, B is the best answer here. The final thing I will say in this is, remember, we've had two videos which talked about analyzed particular questions. Remember, as you move through the questions, every single question has its own video explanation. So, in other words, in a way, it's not that we have two example lessons on critical reasoning questions.

We have hundreds of them because for each question it's as if each question has its own private lesson. That video explanation. So, of course we would urge you to watch this video explanations certainly when you get the question wrong. But, even for hard questions you get right to make sure that you understand all the logic that there is to understand.

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