September 29, 2009

Homework #8 Answer

It is possible for a panhandler to collect a considerable amount of money from passersby, if he can convince them that he is destitute and that begging is the only way for him to help himself. If, on the other hand, passersby get the impression that they are being conned (tricked), or that the panhandler is just being lazy, they will not give him anything at all.

Which one of the following statements can be most reliably concluded from the passage above?

A. Passersby often decide whether or not to give money to a panhandler based on their impression of him and his honesty.

(A) is correct. The argument is that whether or not a passerby will give money to a panhandler depends on whether the passerby believes that the panhandler is in real need, or is merely a con artist. The first sentence indicates that a panhandler can receive money "if he can convince" the passerby; and the second refers to whether a passerby "get[s] an impression" about the panhandler. The key is the passerby's subjective belief, not the panhandler's objective intent.

B. If someone begs for money when he does not really need to, people will not give him any money.

(B) is incorrect. As stated above, the key to the argument is the passerby's subjective belief, not the panhandler's objective intent. Even if the panhandler truly needs the money, he may not be able to convince the passerby of same. Conversely, he may be able to convince the passerby and receive money from him even if he is not in true need.

C. Most passersby would give a panhandler money if they thought he was not trying to con them.

(C) is probably true but is an incomplete statement of the argument. It might be the right answer if we were being asked to support the argument, but the question asks for a conclusion.

D. Most panhandlers are unwilling to work.

(D) is incorrect because it's probably an opinion, or at least an unfounded observation. Even if it were true it would not be an appropriate conclusion. The panhandler's individual situation, not to mention any broad generalizations about panhandlers as a group, are not relevant to the argument which depends on the passerby's impression of the individual panhandler.

E. People who give money to panhandlers are not influenced by how much change they have in their pockets when they decide how much money to give.

(E) is incorrect because it changes the subject; it adds a new and completely unrelated factor and thus attempts a logical fallacy. The argument tells us what passersby are influenced by, therefore the conclusion should do the same thing. It does not necessarily follow, in this or any other argument, that someone who is influenced by one thing must not be influenced by some other specific thing.