A leading board member of AutoSnip Co., makers of an automated home haircutting system, recently stated that the company was in terrible shape and headed for a disastrous year. His concern was that, since the introduction of the AutoSnip III last year, calls to the customer service line have nearly doubled, indicating that people are very unhappy with the new product. Although it's true that it is the job of responsible board members to raise issues of concern, in this case the board member's analysis of the situation is mistaken. The customer service line handles not only complaints but also sales, and the majority of the new calls have been to place new orders.
What role do the two boldfaced selections play in the above argument?
A.The first provides evidence supporting the main conclusion of the argument; the second provides evidence supporting a conclusion that the argument opposes.
B. The first provides evidence, an interpretation of which supports the main conclusion of the argument; the second provides evidence supporting the main conclusion of the argument.
C. The first provides incontrovertible evidence opposing the main conclusion of the argument; the second provides evidence supporting the main conclusion of the argument.
D. The first provides evidence supporting the main conclusion of the argument; the second states that main conclusion.
E. The first provides evidence, an interpretation of which opposes the main conclusion of the argument; the second provides that interpretation.
This is an argument structure question, of the role played variety. To answer these questions, strip away the particular content of the argument to identify the underlying structure. In this argument, the first sentence contains a prediction that functions as a conclusion that the rest of the argument comes to oppose (that the company is in trouble). The next sentence provides evidence (calls doubling), and an interpretation of that evidence that would support the initial conclusion (people are calling to complain). The third sentence provides an alternate conclusion (that the board member is wrong). The final sentence provides new evidence (the nature of the calls) to support an alternate interpretation of the earlier evidence, which can now be shown to support the alternate conclusion.
Explanation for Each Answer Choice
a.The second provides evidence to support the main conclusion of the argument, namely that the board member is wrong and the company is in fact in good shape, since the phone lines are busy with customers placing new orders.
b.This is the credited response. In context, the first boldfaced selection provides evidence that is interpreted in a way that goes against the conclusion of the argument, but by the end of the argument we understand that this same selection could also be interpreted in a way that supports the main conclusion. The second selection is unequivocally understood as support.
c. The first selection does not provide incontrovertible, i.e. unquestionable, evidence; rather it provides evidence that can be interpreted in either direction, as we see in the argument itself.
d. The second provides evidence; it does not state a conclusion.
e. The second does not provide an interpretation; it introduces evidence. That evidence is then used in support of an interpretation of the first selection, but we still need to distinguish between the evidence itself and the use to which it is put.
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