Critical Reasoning


It is true that it is against international law to sell plutonium to countries that do not yet have nuclear weapons. But if United States companies do not do so, companies in other countries will.

Which of the following is most like the argument above in its logical structure?

(A) It is true that it is against the police department’s policy to negotiate with kidnappers. But if the police want to prevent loss of life, they must negotiate in some areas.

(B) It is true that it is illegal to refuse to register for military service, But there is a long tradition in the United States of conscientious objection to serving in the armed forces.

(C) It is true that it is illegal for a government official to participate in a transaction in which there is an apparent conflict of interest. But if the facts are examined carefully, it will clearly be seen that there was no actual conflict of interest in the defendant’s case.

(D) It is true it is against the law to burglarize people’s homes. But someone else certainly would have burglarized that house if the defendant had not done so first.

(E) It is true that company policy forbids supervisors to fire employees without two written warnings. But there have been many supervisors who have disobeyed this policy.


The structure of the given narrative is: If X (namely US companies) did not commit an illegal act, Y (namely a company in some other country) was likely to commit that act and get the benefit out of it.

We must therefore look for that choice which has a similar logical structure.

(D) says, “If the defendant had not committed the illegal act of burglary in that house, someone else would have done so first”. This has the same logical structure as the given narrative, and is the answer.

(A) talks of the role of the police in both the cases of ‘negotiating’ and of ‘not negotiating’ with the kidnappers. It does not say that, if the police do not negotiate, someone else will negotiate with the kidnappers. Moreover, negotiating with the kidnappers is not, by itself, an illegal act. So, (A) does not have the same logical structure as the given narrative, and is not the answer.

(B) also does not say that if one particular person does not refuse to register for military service, someone else will refuse. So, (B) is not the answer.

(C) means that no illegal act was in fact involved in the case discussed. Moreover, it does not follow the pattern “If X does not do it, Y will do it”. So, (C) is not the answer.

(E) says that it is quite habitual for many supervisors to disobey a rule. But it is not of the form, “If one supervisor had not disobeyed the rule, some other supervisor would have disobeyed it”, and is not the answer.

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