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#20- Pulford: Scientists who study the remains of ancient

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Please post your questions below!
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Would appreciate some detail and reasoning behind the correct answer!
Jennifer Janowsky
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Hi! Thanks for your question.

This is a Method of Reasoning question, where the goal is to address the method Valera uses in responding to Pulford's argument. Their arguments can be summarized as follows:

Pulford: Scientists who study remains of historical figures must ask if their investigation is motivated by curiosity alone rather than legitimate inquiry. Investigating something as private as health is only justified when done for legitimate inquiry.
Varela: Curiosity is the root of legitimate inquiry, and many discoveries have been motivated by it alone.

(A) contending that Pulford’s argument rests on an untenable (or un-defendable) distinction
In this case, the distinction is between curiosity and legitimate inquiry, which Valera seems to think are not mutually exclusive--one can stem from the other. This is the correct answer.

(B) disputing the validity of a principle that Pulford explicitly states
Valera doesn't seem to directly dispute any of P's main principles.

(C) offering a counterexample to a generalization in Pulford’s conclusion
Although Valera speaks broadly that important discoveries have been made based on curiosity, she does not offer explicit examples.

(D) attempting to draw a distinction between two views that Pulford treats as a single view
Valera does not draw a distinction between any views that P makes, and may even do the opposite in suggesting curiosity and scientific inquiry go hand in hand.

(E) maintaining that Pulford’s argument is based on inconsistent premises
No inconsistencies are pointed out by Valera in this case.

Hopefully this helps. Thanks again for your question, this was a difficult one, for sure!
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I don't really understand why A is the correct answer. I feel that C would be a stronger answer choice. I think you mentioned that Varela does not offer a counter example, but wouldn't her explaining how some scientific discoveries were found by curiosity? Wouldn't that be a counter example? Thank you very much :-D !
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I chose E. I'm not really understanding why Pulford assuming that legitimate scientific inquiry and mere curiosity are mutually exclusive doesn't count as an inconsistent premises." Doesn't Varela point out that it's inconsistent to say curiosity and scientific inquiry are unrelated? Could you please explain? Thanks in advance.
Francis O'Rourke
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Answer choice (C) describes Valera as offering a counter example. This sounds likes Valera speaks about one example of someone doing something merely for curiosity instead of for scientific inquiry. Maybe she would describe Alessandro Volta
as being just a curious person, with no scientific ambitions, who wondered what would happen if he put some strange metals next to each other and haphazardly discovering batteries.

Unfortunately Varela does not give us any example like the one I described above. Instead she discusses the general differences between curiosity and scientific discovery and claims that they are not that separable.

Answer choice (E) tells us that Valera objects to the inconsistent premises of Pulford's argument. There are two errors here. The first as Jennifer pointed out above is that Valera is not pointing out an inconsistency. She is merely telling us that we should not treat these curiosity and scientific inquiry as wholly distinct. She does seem to believe that they are in part different.

Secondly, it is a stretch to say that Valera is addressing two premises. Even if we take her discussion of curiosity and science to be pointing out an inconsistency, we would need to figure out which two or more premises she is addressing. We could say that she is pointing out the premise that science and curiosity are different is incorrect, but she does not claim that this premise is inconsistent with another premise.
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For answer B, does the "principle that Pulford explicitly states" refer to the premise or the conclusion? Both? How exactly would you define a principle?
Robert Carroll
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A principle is any general rule. Because answer choice (B) is wrong, there is no explicitly-stated principle that Pulford states and Varela disputes. Thus, here, the answer does not refer to the premise or conclusion - if it did, it would be correct. The principle Pulford supports and Varela disputes is implicit - that mere curiosity somehow conflicts with legitimate scientific inquiry.

A principle can be either the premise or the conclusion, or an assumption, or just not present at all.

Robert Carroll