The recording industry is fighting a losing battle: it

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The recording industry is fighting a losing battle: it simply does not have the resources to prosecute all of the individuals who illegally download music from the Internet. Because the number of individuals who will be charged with a crime is so limited, the actions of the recording industry will have a minimal impact on the number of people who illegally download music.

The answer to which of the following questions would best help evaluate the accuracy of the conclusion above?

(A) Will recording industry lawyers dedicate the majority of their time to prosecuting those who illegally download music?

(B) Is a small minority of individuals responsible for the majority of illegal song downloads?

(C) Do many individuals who illegally download songs share their music files with other Internet users?

(D) Will new Internet security technology permit the recording industry to more quickly and easily identify individuals who illegally download music?

(E) Will the threat of prosecution alter the behavior of those who illegally download music?

OA E

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by ceilidh.erickson » Thu May 16, 2019 11:53 am

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When we're asked to EVALUATE an argument, it's implied that there is currently missing information - UNSTATED ASSUMPTIONS - that would be needed for the argument to logically cohere.

Premises:
- recording industry does not have the resources to prosecute all of the individuals who illegally download music from the Internet.
- the number of individuals who will be charged with a crime is so limited

Conclusion: the actions of the recording industry will have a minimal impact on the number of people who illegally download music.

Unstated assumption: only people who are prosecuted will refrain from illegally downloading music.

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Before we look at the answer choices, a note about EVALUATE question strategy: each answer choice on an evaluate question will be posed as a QUESTION. If we want to determine whether that question helps us to evaluate the validity of the argument, we should ask ourselves:
What would a "yes" answer do to the conclusion? What would a "no" answer do?

We're looking for a question for which a YES answer would WEAKEN the argument, and a NO answer would STRENGTHEN (or vice versa):
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(A) Will recording industry lawyers dedicate the majority of their time to prosecuting those who illegally download music?
if yes... we're still told that they don't have the resources to prosecute very many people, so whether it's a majority of their time or not, it doesn't impact that premise.
if no... again, it doesn't matter, because we're not allowed to undermine a premise.

(B) Is a small minority of individuals responsible for the majority of illegal song downloads?
if yes... this might impact number of downloads, if the industry could just target these people. But the conclusion is that the number of PEOPLE will not be impacted, This wouldn't weaken that idea.
if no... it doesn't impact the argument.

(C) Do many individuals who illegally download songs share their music files with other Internet users?
if yes... that might explain *how* illegal downloads happen, but does not impact the number of downloaders after some are prosecuted.
if no... this doesn't tell us anything about how prosecutions will impact number of downloaders.

(D) Will new Internet security technology permit the recording industry to more quickly and easily identify individuals who illegally download music?
if yes... great, but we still don't have the resources to prosecute them, so it won't matter.
if no... no change to the argument.

(E) Will the threat of prosecution alter the behavior of those who illegally download music?
if yes... then people don't have to be arrested themselves for some arrests to change behavior overall. A few arrests could lead to a large reduction in the number of people downloading.
if no... then this strengthens the assumption that only people who are prosecuted will refrain from illegally downloading music, and thus strengthens the argument.

The answer is E.
Ceilidh Erickson
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Harvard Graduate School of Education

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by ceilidh.erickson » Thu May 16, 2019 11:55 am

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Ceilidh Erickson
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education