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#24 - Ethicist: In general it is wrong to use medical

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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (E)

This argument concludes that some nonconsensual medical research should be allowed because it sometimes is the only to way to gain knowledge of the best treatment for emergency conditions. This conclusion virtually disregards the principle advanced in the beginning of the stimulus — that the patient has a right to informed consent. Because the author did not reconcile this principle with his conclusion, you need prephrase a Defender Assumption that reconciles the two.

Given that there are two competing imperatives at stake — patient's rights to informed consent on one hand, benefits of medical research on the other — the author who concludes that nonconsensual research should sometimes be allowed must believe that second imperative is somehow more important than the first. This, in other words, is the central assumption in her argument.

Answer choice (A): Doctor's knowledge of what's best for their patients in emergency situations plays no role in this argument. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (B): At first, this seems like an attractive answer. Indeed, the reason why a doctor may choose to bypass obtaining a patient's consent to an experimental practice is probably due to fear that such knowledge can adversely affect the outcome of her research (for instance, if the patient refuses to give her consent). That said, the assumptions that underlie physicians' decisions are irrelevant to an argument in favor of nonconsensual medical research. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): This answer choice limits the application of the principle used by the author to defend her conclusion and therefore weakens the argument. It is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): Patients' rights in cases where the best treatment option is unknown are irrelevant to this conclusion. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. As discussed earlier, the author must believe that medical research is more important than the patient's right to informed consent. In other words, such rights must sometimes be outweighed by the benefits of this research. Try the Assumption Negation technique: what if the right of patients to informed consent is never outweighed by the benefits of medical research? If true, this would certainly weaken the author's conclusion. Therefore, answer choice (E) is correct.
Sdaoud17
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I was Between C and E. But when I negated E it was clear from the negation which it made sense, but Can you please Show how Negating C will not Weaken the Argument.

Thank you
Ron Gore
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Thank you for the question, Sdaoud17,

A negation of answer (C) could be: "Even if the research is not highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient, it may be the case that nonconsensual medical research should be allowed."

The conclusion of the argument in the stimulus was: "some restricted nonconsensual medical research should be allowed."

There are a couple of reasons why the negated form of (C) does not attack the conclusion. First, the negation is supportive of nonconsensual research being allowed, in agreement with the conclusion.

Second, the argument did not address the likelihood that the patient receiving the nonconsensual experimental treatment would be benefited. The benefit to the patient being experimented on was not at issue. Rather, the focus of the argument was on gaining knowledge for the treatment of future patients. Since the benefit to the current patient was not material to the argument, answer choice (C), whether as stated or as negated, is immaterial to the conclusion, and therefore cannot weaken it.

Hope that helps,

Ron
mN2mmvf
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Why does "Doctor's knowledge of what's best for their patients in emergency situations play no role in this argument"? The stimulus says, "knowledge of the best treatment for emergency conditions can be gained only if..." consent is sometimes bypassed. I looked for a necessary assumption and negated choice (A) to say that doctors already know what is best in emergency situations. That seemed to weaken the argument to me. If it were true, bypassing consent would not be necessary because the knowledge already exists.
Adam Tyson
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There are a couple of problems with that analysis, mN2mmvf, and the first of them is that your negation of answer A is a little bit off. To negate "Doctors often do not know", you shouldn't go so far as to say "they always know" (or as you put it, they "already know"). Instead, negate "often" with "rarely" (which is another way of saying it's not often that they don't know). If doctors rarely don't what what's best, they still could sometimes not know, and so there may be times when conducting experimental research without consent to learn more.

The second problem I see is that answer A is confined to two fairly limited groups - "doctors" and "their own patients". The argument goes way beyond doctors and their own patients. What about expanding knowledge for EMTs and paramedics, nurses, physician assistants, midwives, interns, respiratory therapists, and the general public that might want to learn emergency procedures in a first aid class? What about learning something that will help someone else's patients?

This answer has a flaw that is fairly common on the LSAT, that of assuming that some subgroup of a thing is representative of the whole thing. That's like treating "tuition" as being synonymous with "the cost of education" (without considering books, fees, room, board, etc.), or acting as if "high salary" was the same thing as "financial rewards of a job" (without considering tips, bonuses, commissions, benefits, stock sharing, etc.) Answer A acts as if "Doctors" is representative of everyone who might be involved in "treatment for emergency conditions", without considering those folks I listed above.

A is very attractive when looked at the way you did, and I get why you liked it. However, it's too limited, and the negation of "often" isn't "never" but rather "not often", which makes it tricky. That's what we call "logical opposition", which is the better choice in these cases than "polar opposition". In the final analysis, the negation of answer E is so convincing, and does such total devastation to the argument, that it has to be the better answer than A. Since we are to pick the best answer, E just has to be it.

Keep up the good work!
Adam M. Tyson
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biskam
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I'm struggling with these assumption questions, particularly when I see conditional reasoning.

Here, I got the answer right because I used my intuition... if the author thinks that nonconsensual experiments should be allowed, despite saying it was wrong earlier, she must think there's some good to it--that if it's allowed, it's in the best interest of future patients

BUT I did see the "without" and "only if" and felt pressured to write out a conditional diagram but saw in the end that the two statements had nothing in common (because the author disregards the first statement). So I felt frustrated and that I had wasted my time, and I re-read the stimulus and stuck with my intuition.

I'm trying however to use conditional reasoning as much as I can because I'm bad at it and I often miss CR questions when I don't diagram them and I see how easy the question could've been if I had diagrammed it.

So this is my longwinded way of asking, when do I rely on conditional reasoning diagrams? Is there a rhyme or reason? Should I keep diagramming regardless of whether the diagram helps me in the end?

Thank you!
James Finch
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Hi Biksam,

Diagramming is only necessary if the argument isn't entirely clear in your mind. When it can help clarify the argument being made, and thus the answer choices, go ahead and diagram it out. Diagramming practice also has the side effect of making it easier to pick out the sufficient and necessary conditions by forcing you to do it, which in turn will make it easier to do in your head as you get more practice.

In short, diagram it out until you feel comfortable enough to identify the conditional logic without needing a written diagram, at least in most cases. But whenever you feel like you're getting stumped, don't hesitate to diagram.

Hope this helps!
Blueballoon5%
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Ron Gore wrote:A negation of answer (C) could be: "Even if the research is not highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient, it may be the case that nonconsensual medical research should be allowed."


Hi Ron! I hope you (or someone else) could help me with this question. May I ask how you translated answer choice C into the sentence above?

This is how I diagrammed the answer choice:

Answer choice C: "Nonconsensual medical research should be allowed only if the research is highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient."

Conditional statement of answer choice C: "Nonconsensual medical research should be allowed :arrow: the research is highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient."

Negation of conditional statement: "Nonconsensual medical research should be allowed :arrow: the research is NOT highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient."
[I negated the necessary condition because I read in the lesson book that we should add the "NOT" to the necessary condition in order to negate a conditional statement.]

However, this last negated sentence does not match with Ron's sentence (above). The order seems to be reversed in Ron's sentence (the sufficient and necessary conditions are reversed). I think my confusion lies in the term "even if." Is "even if" a sufficient or necessary indicator?

__________________________

Update: I read through this powerscore blog about the use of "even if" (https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/how-to ... snt-matter).

I think the article suggests that Ron's sentence reads: "Whether the research is not highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient is not necessary in determining whether nonconsensual medical research should be allowed."

This made me a little more confused. How do we diagram the above sentence into a conditional statement?

And what is the underlying meaning of this sentence? Is it saying that the research results (good or bad) doesn't matter?
Adam Tyson
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The short answer to how to negate a conditional claim, blueballoon, is to make it so that the necessary condition is no longer necessary. The "even if" approach is where you say the sufficient condition can occur even if the necessary condition does not. The supposed necessary condition isn't actually necessary; it can be ignored.

The order of the statements isn't the key factor, and it's okay that Ron's version puts the "even if" portion at the beginning. As long as that negation shows the possibility of the sufficient condition occurring without the necessary condition occurring, it's a good negation. Ron's answer could as easily have been written as "it may be the case that nonconsensual medical research should be allowed even if the research is not highly likely to yield results that will benefit the patient." The order doesn't matter; the logical relationship does.

The next time you are attempting to negate a conditional claim, try it this way: "It could be that the sufficient condition happens and the necessary condition does not happen." Or, another approach: "this alleged necessary condition turns out to be unnecessary; I can do away with it or ignore it." Neither of these approaches is about showing that the necessary condition DOESN'T or CANNOT happen, but only that it doesn't HAVE to happen.
Adam M. Tyson
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