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Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death

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Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 11:30
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Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death do us part.” If “love” here refers to a feeling, then this promise makes no sense, for feelings are not within one’s control, and a promise to do something not within one’s control makes no sense. Thus, no one—including those making marital vows—should take “love” in this context to be referring to feelings.

The ethicist’s conclusion follows logically if which one of the following is assumed?
(A) None of our feelings are within our control.
(B) People should not make promises to do something that is not within their control.
(C) “Love” can legitimately be taken to refer to something other than feelings.
(D) Promises should not be interpreted in such a way that they make no sense.
(E) Promises that cannot be kept do not make any sense.

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Re: Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 18:52
Anyone Please elaborate why "A" is wrong.?
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Re: Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 21:25
Hi, can you please help me understand why option D makes more sense over option E & A?
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Re: Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 21:51
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To answer both of those questions (about A and about A and E) - both of those answer choices are already covered in the given premises, so they're not assumptions.

For (A), see that the stimulus says "for feelings are not within one’s control." All (A) does is add "none" to it ("none of our feelings are within our control") but note that 1) the given information isn't written in a way that requires that extra specificity (if it were "in general, feelings are not within our control" that leaves some doubt about which feelings, but the way it's written there's no gap between "feelings" and "all feelings" that needs to be filled), and 2) even if there were a gap, choice (A) isn't necessary to fill it. The argument doesn't assume that "no feelings are within our control," just that by saying "feelings are not within our control" includes one particular feeling: love. The argument doesn't require pain, anxiety, apprehension, elation, etc. to all be outside of our control - that's what "none of our feelings are under our control" means. All the argument really requires (and I'd say that it's already covered with the given information) is for love, specifically to be one of those feelings. So a better-written (A) would be something like "love is not a feeling that is an exception to the rule that feelings are out of one's control."

NOTE: in general be wary of "all" and "none" in assumption answers. Assumption answers must be true in order for the conclusion to hold, and it's just really, really rare that you'd ever need such a huge statement to be true.


For (E), "a promise to do something not within one’s control makes no sense" already serves the same purpose that (E) would. The argument already tells you that the promise of eternal love in marriage vows - a feeling that is outside of one's control - makes no sense. So (E) doesn't add any new value that isn't covered within the argument.

What *is* missing is a link to "no one should take love in this context" - the argument itself doesn't talk about why someone shouldn't interpret love to refer to feelings. It just doesn't link to interpretation at all - all the argument does is establish love as a feeling, then say that feelings are out of control, and that based on that a promise about a feeling doesn't make sense. The conclusion is the first time you get any mention of interpretation of what "love" means in wedding vows. And so (D) is necessary to establish that link - it connects the logical debate about feelings/control/promises to how people should interpret a promise that doesn't make logical sense. That's why (D) is correct.
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Re: Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death   [#permalink] 04 Mar 2019, 21:51
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Ethicist: Marital vows often contain the promise to love “until death

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