Assumptions Part 1: Arguments and Necessary Assumptions What exactly is a Necessary Assumption?

A necessary assumption is an assumption that the author MUST make in order to draw her/his conclusion from the available evidence. In other words, the argument CANNOT work if this assumption is not true. Let’s take a look at a test-like example:
Manny works night shifts at the local bodega, but he is extremely interested in a part-time position at a call center that requires him to work nights. Since Manny is already working at that time, it stands to reason that even if he is selected for the call center job, he will be unable to accept their offer.

First, let’s identify the conclusion of the argument as well as the supporting evidence. Remember that the conclusion of an argument is its main idea — it is the point of view or idea of which the author is trying to convince you. Conclusions will be supported by other statements in the argument, as opposed to providing support for other statements (unless you’re dealing with an argument containing multiple conclusions in which case one conclusion could support another). Statements that provide support for conclusions constitute evidence. In this case, we can split the argument up as follows: Conclusion: Even if he is selected, Manny cannot take the call center job. Evidence: The call center job requires Manny to work nights, and Manny is already working nights at the local bodega.

Now, what must we assume in order for the conclusion to follow logically from the evidence? Take a few seconds to think about this and then read on. When you’re ready, evaluate each of the following statements and read the analysis that follows.
All call center jobs require working at night.

Nope. We know that this particular call center job would require Manny to work at night, and that’s as much as we need to know. We don’t need to assume anything about all call center jobs.
It would be impossible for Manny to continue working at the bodega while also working remotely for the call center from the bodega.

We have to assume that this is the case. You are correct. the conclusion can still follow from the evidence. but certainly not necessary. then congratulations. It is about whether he can accept the job IF he is selected. The conclusion is not about whether or not Manny can be selected for the job. If Manny can in fact quit his current job. Manny cannot quit his current job at the bodega. then he certainly could accept the job at the call center. Here’s where it helps to pay close attention to the conclusion of the argument and the issues contained within it. Call centers are willing to consider hiring someone who works at a bodega. an answer choice that gives you reason to doubt a necessary assumption would make an excellent weakener. since working at the bodega would not necessarily prevent Manny from accepting the call center job. For instance. This was probably the first assumption that sprang to mind for many of you. We’ll also delve into a technique called the Negation Test. Even if Manny cannot be selected. Conversely. an answer choice that validates a necessary assumption would make an excellent candidate for the correct answer to a strengthen question. the logic of the argument is unaffected i. .e.We have to assume that this is true. Tempting. If it was. If it is possible for Manny to work both jobs simultaneously. then the conclusion clearly does not follow from the available evidence. Next time: We’ll take a look at a more difficult example of a Necessary Assumption question. thereby breaking the connection between the available evidence and the author’s conclusion. which will formalize the process we just employed to identify assumptions that are truly necessary to the argument being made. Identifying necessary assumptions can be hugely helpful on other question types as well.

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