Argument Analysis in GRE Analytical Writing
Argument analysis is the evaluation of the logic in the context. It is to validate if the events stated in the context lead to the conclusion in the context. If there are logical fallacies, then the maintainability of the conclusion might be questioned. Do understand that there is nothing final and absolute in argument analysis. At the end, the events in the context and the conclusion might be tenable! Hence, it is imperative to note that argument analysis is considering possibilities - the might be this or might not be this kind of logic.
The instructions are paramount in argument analysis. The generic analysis remains the same as mentioned in the previous paragraph. The instructions determine the specific state of the analysis. For instance, one might emphasize on raising questions and answering them or testing assumptions or seeking evidence or putting forth alternative explanations.
It is quite essential to be able to differentiate the different kinds of instructions.
Consider this example: A is coming out of a software firm and hence A is a software engineer.
The EVENT: A coming out of a software firm.
The CONCLUSION: A is a software engineer.
Check if the event is leading to the conclusion in terms of logic. LOGIC is objective and is devoid of your views, opinion and anything subjective.
Hence, you will not write if A is learning C, Java or Python. You will not write how Information Technology is the biggest employment provider or how Information Technology is here to stay for a long, long time.
You will look at the event and the conclusion in an objective way - the LOGIC.
What if A is an administrative staff? The conclusion is untenable.
What if A is a parent of an IT employee in the software firm? Again, the conclusion is untenable.
In this way, one will be looking at umpteen ways in which there might be presence of logical fallacies. Reiterating - MIGHT case indicates possibility. There is a possibility of the conclusion going wrong due to logical fallacy, but none knows if this for sure.
Different kinds of instructions:
ASSUMPTION: This is the implicit logic on which a statement is based on.
EVIDENCE: The additional information or the unknown information that might affect the state of conclusion in the context.
ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS: Using the events as they are, explaining them in a different logic. Nothing subjective here.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: Raise questions to indicate the site of logical fallacies and answer the questions which indicate how the fallacies affect the tenability of the conclusion in the context.
Now, use the example to see how the instructions change the analysis.
- Assumption: Anybody coming out of the software firm is a software engineer. How logical it is? Illogical for anyone might come out of a software firm. For instance, administrative staff, helper staff, security staff or visitors.
- Evidence: There is a need for evidence that A is a software engineer. Without this information, it might not be possible to ascertain that A is a software engineer. For instance, A might be a chef in the cafeteria. In that case, the evidence weakens the conclusion in the statement.
- Questions and answers: Raise an indirect question using the concept of active-passive and direct-indirect concepts. The answer to the question if A belongs to a different profession other than a software engineer determines the tenability of the conclusion. For instance, the answer is that A belongs to bomb squad department probing for clues in the premises of the software firm, then A is not a software engineer and hence the conclusion weakens.
Consider a different example to see how an alternative explanation works.
Samsung started providing new models with latest Google's Android version like Oreo after witnessing a stiff competition from the resurrected Nokia aka HMD Global offering the latest Android and prompt security updates with a vanilla Android experience.
Alternative explanations use the facts but interpret the conclusion in a different way. The conclusion is that due to Nokia's paradigm, Samsung has been forced to offer latest Android in new models. There might be an alternative explanation here.
It is possible that the Android policy of Google has changed. It is possible that Google has been enforcing the rule that the mobile manufacturers provide the latest Android and security updates. It is possible that Nokia has been the first and Samsung is the second firm to follow. It is possible that the two events are unrelated but are a result of Google's initiatives.
It is important to note that there should be no place for your knowledge or views. Don't bash Nokia and call Samsung as the undisputed market leader or say that Samsung and Nokia are both losers and Chinese brands are the best. No place for your views.