This is a REALLY tricky question. All five answers can be supported. The real question is, what is "the argument"?When a company refuses to allow other companies to produce patented technology, the consumer invariably loses.
This statement is highly questionable. For example, Apple Inc. does not allow its competitors to produce i-Phones and i-Pads, and it does charge exorbitant prices. Yet we cannot say that the consumers necessarily lose, because consumers also care about quality. Thus, in a sense, this statement presupposes E (consumers care more about price than about quality).
In fact, the very existence of the system of patenting suggests that patents are good for the consumer. If the patent system did not allow Apple to charge exorbitant prices, there would, arguably, be no i-Pods and no i-Phones. Patents incentivise companies to innovate so they can later charge exorbitant prices.The company that holds the patent can charge exorbitant prices because there is no direct competition.
This statement is highly questionable. McDonald's is the only one producing Big Mac's, and there is no direct competition, but there is indirect competition (other hamburgers
). Thus, McDonald's cannot charge exorbitant prices.
This statement thus presupposes A and D. If other companies could produce similar unpatented technology, the company in question would not be able to charge exorbitant prices. For example, companies other than Apple can produce other smartphones, and the price for i-Phones will necessarily keep going down because of that. However, if you know the story with the patent that Singer used for his sewing machine, you would see how carefully designed patents actually allow the company to charge exorbitant prices for much longer. Thus, here (A) is clearly an assumption. The same can be said about (D): if the consumers cannot tell the difference between patented technology and inferior imitations, patenting company would not be able to charge exorbitant prices.When the patent expires, other companies are free to manufacture the technology and prices fall.
This is just common sense; no assumptions.Companies should therefore allow other manufacturers to license patented technology.
Note the "therefore". In reality, this is a completely ridiculous conclusion. Try to tell Apple they they should license their i-Phones so others can produce them. Why?! Well, (B) offers a nice explanation: because companies should act in the best interest of the consumer.
In a sense, (C) can also be considered an assumption. From a practical point of view, if there is no problem, then there is nothing to argue about. Thus, if this issue was raised, then, chances are, somebody thinks that too many patents are granted to selfish companies. However, "too many" is highly subjective, and thus looks like a poor answer.Overall, I support (B).
This is because (A), (D), (E) are assumptions underlying the premises, but only (B) is an assumption underlying the actual argument, the actual inference. If it is given that the company that holds the patent can charge exorbitant prices, then (A) is no longer an assumption.
I think the point is to distinguish, which assumptions are needed for the premises vs. which assumptions are needed for the implication. For example, if you negate (A) and add it to the premises, you get a contradiction. If you add (B) to the premises, it strengthens the implication; if you add not (B) to the argument, it weakens the implication. Note that if you add (C) to the premises, it somewhat strengthens the argument, and if you add not (C) to the premises, it somewhat weakens the argument, but not as obviously as with (B).
In a sense, (C) suggests (B); but (B) is more explicit.
Sergey Orshanskiy, Ph.D.
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