If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Identify the role | Worked example

Watch a demonstration of one way to approach questions that ask you to identify the role a piece of information plays in an argument. Created by Sal Khan.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Rayan Quddus
    I just didn't like the way the video presents the question as I can't see all the options.
    (36 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • mr pants pink style avatar for user Nathan Chelpaty
    2 of the answers are cut off from the video. I can not see them. Please re-edit.
    (15 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Kai Burley
    ANSWERS since they are cutoff at the beginning:

    (A) It provides evidence that the animals' activities given as examples are purposeful.

    (B) It is the conclusion of the argument.

    (c) It is an assumption used by the argument to justify acceptance of a broader conception of what a tool is than that usually accepted by the biologists.

    (D) It calls into questions the basis of the biologists' conception of a tool.

    (E) It addresses a weakness in the biologists' announcements that stems from their ambiguous use of the world external.
    (8 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Ona Colasante
    On my computer I wasn't able to scroll down to see the last two options for answers. Is there a trick to seeing the entire screen? This hasn't happened with other worked examples.
    (6 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user mrlcactionn
    Hi, not sure why no one has addressed the way the video cuts off the choices?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user a a
    How do you know But such announcements are completely unsurprising, since all animals use tools is the conclusion? What is the main argument, premise, and conclusion in this paragraph?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • blobby green style avatar for user asf710
      The first clause "But such announcements are completely unsurprising" is the conclusion because every statement supports it. The argument is just structured differently. You typically see this construction when the author provides a contrary position at first and then rebuts it.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

- [Narrator] Biologists often announce that a certain kind of animal has been found capable of using tools. This usually refers to something like using a stick to hunt for ants in a log, or a stone to crack nuts. But such announcements are completely unsurprising, since all animals use tools. Birds build nests, fish hide in the mud to escape predators, and squirrels use buildings as shortcuts between trees. If an animal executes its purpose by means of an external physical object, then that object can reasonably be regarded as a tool. Which one of the following most accurately describes the role played in the argument by the claim that the biologists' announcements that a certain animal has been found capable of using tools are unsurprising? So which one of the following most accurately describes the role played in the argument by this claim? So, let's first just find the claim. So, we see it right over here, they say, "Biologists often announce that a certain kind of animal "has been found capable of using tools. "This usually refers to something like "using a stick to hunt for ants in a log "or a stone to crack nuts. "But such announcements are completely unsurprising." SO, let me underline that. But such announcements are completely unsurprising. So, that's what they're talking about, the biologists' announcements, the claim that biologists' announcements that a certain animal has been found capable of using tools are unsurprising. So what role is that having in this argument? So, let's just think about it a little bit. They're saying that, okay, biologists make this announcement, they're usually around an animal using a stick to hunt for ants, but they're unsurprising, and then they say all animals use tools. Well, all animals use tools seem to point to this statement, so it seems to back up this. If you believe that all animals use tools, then you would say that, you would agree that such announcements are completely unsurprising, and then later they talk about birds build nests, fish hide in the mud to escape predators, and squirrels use buildings as shortcuts between trees. If an animal executes its purpose by means of an external physical object, which all of these are examples of, then that object can reasonably be regarded as a tool. I don't know if I agree with that statement but let's just go with it a little bit. This is the author trying to back up this notion that all animals use tools, so this red part backs up, tries to give evidence for all animals using tools, this idea that maybe all animals are using tools. So, the red part seems to back up this notion that the author has, that all animals use tools, which seems to backup what we underlined, which I would say is the conclusion, the idea that these announcements from biologists are completely unsurprising, so I would say that this right over here is the conclusion. Here, they're talking about what is unsurprising and then they're talking about that they find it unsurprising and then everything else is backing it up, backing up this conclusion, but saying, "Hey look, all animals use tools," then they kind of go into examples and a definition of what it means to use a tool that backs up this idea that animals use tools. So, let's look at the choices to see if any of them coincide with what I just reasoned through. It provides evidence that the animals' activities given as examples are purposeful. No, what I underlined, this is what we're trying to, we're saying what role does this underlined part say, this notion, the biologists' announcements that a certain animal has been found capable of using tools, is unsurprising. This isn't providing evidence, so I would mark that out. It's making a conclusion, as I said before, that something is unsurprising. It is the conclusion of the argument. Yep, that feels exactly right. It's not in support of other things, it is a thing that other things are supporting. Alright. It is an assumption used by the argument to justify acceptance of a broader conception of what a tool is than that usually accepted by the biologist. Well, the way that this argument is structured, it does finish with this non-traditional definition of a tool, so sometimes you might just superficially say, "Hey, maybe I'm building to a conclusion." But this argument is not built that way, that definition was a way, that definition in conjunction with these examples is used to support this idea that all animals use tools, which is used to then make the conclusion that those announcements are unsurprising, so I would rule that out. It calls into question the basis of the biologists' conception of a tool. No, the part that I underlined definitely doesn't do that. The part that I underlined is the part they're saying, "Hey, it's unsurprising." It addresses a weakness in the biologists' announcements that stems from their ambiguous use if the word external. No, it's not pointing to a weakness in their argument, so I wouldn't, it addresses a weakness in the biologists' announcements that stems from their ambiguous use of the word external. No, it's not trying to point at the ambiguity. Once again, it's trying to make a conclusion that's unsurprising, when biologists say that some animal or another has been using tools. So I definitely like choice B.