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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Reasoning Ability: Statement and Assumptions

   
Author Topic: Reasoning Ability: Statement and Assumptions
The Rabbit
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I recently came across a website designed to help students prepare for college entrance exams in India. It includes a section in which you must determine what assumptions are logically justified based on a given statement. Here is a link to the test.

I find that I disagree with their answers about half the time. I can think of several reasons for this. It's possible that my logical reasoning skills are weak. It's possible that there are culturally factors which are important in determining what a statement implies. And it's possible that the makers of the test have worse logical reasoning ability than I do.

I'm curious to see what other hatrackers think about the questions and the explanations given on the site.

Here are a few examples of some of the questions where I dispute the answers. Which assumption do you think are logically implied by the statement and which are not.

quote:
Statement: "You are hereby appointed as a programmer with a probation period of one year and your performance will be reviewed at the end of the period for confirmation." - A line in an appointment letter.

Assumptions:

(1) The performance of an individual generally is not known at the time of appointment offer.
(2) Generally an individual tries to prove his worth in the probation period.

quote:
Statement: "In order to bring punctuality in our office, we must provide conveyance allowance to our employees." - In charge of a company tells Personnel Manager.

Assumptions:

(1) Conveyance allowance will not help in bringing punctuality.
(2) Discipline and reward should always go hand in hand.

quote:
Statement: Apart from the entertainment value of television, its educational value cannot be ignored.

Assumptions:

(1) People take television to be a means of entertainment only.
(2) The educational value of television is not realised properly.



[ May 30, 2012, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Vadon
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I did the first page (only the first two showed up).

I have no problem with their answer to your first example (Programmer/Probation). I do take issue with their answer to the second one(Punctuality).

I don't know what they said to the third one, but I would say that both assumptions are a part of the statement. The statement arises from the assumption that some people are ignoring the educational value of television. The second assumption is tricky because I'm not sure what they mean by "realised." Do they mean that the value is there but people don't realize it's there? Or do they mean that there is educational value to be had, but television isn't there yet? If it's the first, then I'd say that the second assumption is intended in the statement. If it's the second possibility for realized, I'd say it's not assumed because the claim isn't saying anything about television needing to be better, it's about whether we ignore the value that's there.

On the first page, one you didn't include that I had a problem with was:

quote:

Statement: Unemployment allowance should be given to all unemployed Indian youth above 18 years of age.

Assumptions:

(1)There are unemployed youth in India who needs monetary support.
(2)The government has sufficient funds to provide allowance to all unemployed youth.

They say the first assumption comes from the original statement. I say neither do. The statement is normative suggesting that the government should provide unemployment allowance to citizens over 18. Nothing in that statement says there are citizens over 18 in need of monetary support, but if there are citizens in need of support, they should get it. If anything assumption two is more likely from the statement. If you make the claim that the government should provide monetary support for the citizens, that statement is probably made with prudence in mind. If it is the case that the government paying unemployment would result in greater harm than the benefits of the aid, I would think a person wouldn't say that the government should provide such aid. So to make the claim beyond a hypothetical context would mean that you've taken into consideration competing factors (like the amount of funding available) before you say what the government should do.

If anything, I think that testing for reasoning like they are shouldn't be done as a multiple choice test. When I test for a student's reasoning ability, I want them to justify their answers. I don't really care what answer they provide, I want to know how they got there.

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Strider
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Their assumptions seem more like inferences.

For instance, in the third example, it doesn't seem that either of the assumptions are logically justified by the statement. If this was a formal logic class, they'd fail.

edit - in response to the original post

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
Their assumptions seem more like inferences.

For instance, in the third example, it doesn't seem that either of the assumptions are logically justified by the statement. If this was a formal logic class, they'd fail.

edit - in response to the original post

I can't really determine whether the test is asking about what can be logically inferred from the statements or if they are asking about what can be reasonably assumed. There doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern in their answers and explanations.
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scifibum
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Probation: I agree with the test.

Punctuality: I don't agree, but I can sort of see it. Perhaps more specific cultural context would sway this one.

TV: I agree with the test.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to follow any formal logic rules, and I'm not trying very hard to exclude any experience or context I have outside of the test questions. (From what I can tell, the test assumes you are relating these statements to the real world.)

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The Rabbit
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In the example regarding the conveyance allowance, the test gives the following explanation.

quote:
Assumption I goes against the statement. So, it is not implicit. The allowance will serve as a reward to the employees and shall provoke them to come on time. So, II is implicit.
I have no problem with the first part. The second part seems seriously flawed. The statement gives no indication that the allowance will be given only to those who are punctual so it can not be logically inferred that the allowance is a reward for punctuality. I can imagine some cultural context that would make it reasonable to presume that the allowance would be seen as a reward -- but it can not be logically inferred from the statement alone.

Furthermore, the use of the word "must" in the statement logically implies that the person in charge believes that without a conveyance allowance some employees will be unable to be reach their place of work in a timely fashion. It implies that the lack of punctuality is a matter of inadequate resources not discipline.

But most importantly, even if the statement said read "In order to promote punctuality, employees who arrive at work on time should be given a conveyance allowance" it could not be logically inferred that "Discipline and reward should go hand in hand", it would only infer that the person in charge believed that a reward would promote discipline.

Edited to add: The use of "must" could also imply a moral obligation to reward employees for punctuality but without any reference to a reward in the statement, my first interpretation seems more probable.

[ May 30, 2012, 05:19 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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The Rabbit
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Here is another example from one of the tests.

quote:
Statement: There is big boom in drug business and a number of jhuggi-jhopari dwellers in Delhi can be seen pedalling with small pouches of smack and brown sugar.

Assumptions:

(1)Drug addiction is increasing in the country, specially in the capital.
(2)All the big dons involved in the smuggling of drugs live in jhuggi-jhopari areas.
(3)Most of the jhuggi-jhopari dwellers would do anything for money.


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The Rabbit
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In that last example, the web site says 1 and 3 are implicit.


From a strict logical standpoint, they are not. For the two statements to be reasonable assumptions, "increasing drug addiction" must be assumed to be synonymous with a boom in drug business. The mention of drug dealing in Delhi must be sufficient to indicate a special problem exists in Delhi. One must assume that "a number of jhuggi-jhopari dwellers" is synonymous with "most jhuggi-jhopari dwellers" and one must assume that a person who pedals drugs would have no moral compunction against doing anything else for money.

Concluding that (1) and (3) are implicit presumes certain cultural preconceptions about drug dealing which suggests that the test (either intentional or not) is biased in favor of people with certain cultural attitudes.

Is it possible to construct a test like this one that would be reasonably free of cultural bias?

Distinguishing between assumptions that are logically requisite and those that are only reasonably well founded not logically required is something that would normally in any course in formal logic. I'm not sure how you could test for that in a multiple choice format without presuming certain cultural preconceptions.

If the correct answer to the drug question was the one consistent with formal logic (in which case none of the assumptions is logically inferred), the test would still be biased in favor of people with more permissive attitudes toward drug dealing and use.

[ May 30, 2012, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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