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#12 -Novel X and Novel Y are both semiautobiographical n

avengingangel
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#12 involves "Novel X" and "Novel Y." Came to the forum hoping to find some help in the explanation of the correct answer to that question..
Nikki Siclunov
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Hi Angel,

Thanks for your question. Given that the author considers two possible explanations for why the two novels X and Y are so similar, this is a causal argument. The conclusion favors one explanation (the similarity is coincidental) over another (plagiarism), because both authors came from similar backgrounds. Thus, the argument is structured as follows:

    Premise: The authors came from similar backgrounds.
    Conclusion: The similarity between the novels is more likely to be coincidental than the result of plagiarism.

This prephrase matches answer choice (D). The only complication here is the fact that (D) states the comparison in terms of which cause is less likely to be the real one, not which cause is more likely. That's all :-)

Answer choices (A) and (B) contain contextual information.

Answer choice (C) states the main premise supporting the conclusion.

Answer choice (E) is an assumption upon which the conclusion depends, but it is not the main conclusion of the argument.

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,
Nikki Siclunov
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avengingangel
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Nikki, thanks so much, that makes total sense. I originally chose E, but I now see why that is an assumption that the author rests on, rather than a description of the conclusion itself. And actually, can you please remind me of what type of question this is?? Must Be True? Main Point ??

Also, could you please walk me through the causal reasoning part? I am actually on that section in the LR Bible right now, and struggling with it a bit. (What would the diagram(s) look like?? I'm not sure why / how this is a causal argument...) Thanks so much for all the help !!
Jonathan Evans
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Hi, avengingangel,

This is a Main Point question, a spin off of Must Be True questions (closely related to Method of Reasoning) in which you must identify the conclusion.

Because your job is to identify the conclusion, you must be on the lookout for attractive wrong answers. You can bet that if the question asks you for the main point of the argument, there will be at least one or two enticing incorrect options.

Remember that a main conclusion must have both premises (facts) backing it up and it must in turn NOT support any further conclusion in the argument. A sentence that satisfies the first condition but not the second is a subordinate conclusion.

This is a causal argument in that the author contends that readers suspect similarities between the novels are a result of plagiarism while the author asserts that the similarities are merely coincidental because the authors are from similar backgrounds and have led similar lives. Notice the causal language?

I would not recommend diagramming this stimulus as it does not involve conditional statements and you do not have to manipulate it in any respect.
avengingangel
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Ah, yes. The causal language wasn't registering with me before. Thanks!!
LSAT2018
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Nikki Siclunov wrote:Hi Angel,

Thanks for your question. Given that the author considers two possible explanations for why the two novels X and Y are so similar, this is a causal argument. The conclusion favors one explanation (the similarity is coincidental) over another (plagiarism), because both authors came from similar backgrounds. Thus, the argument is structured as follows:

    Premise: The authors came from similar backgrounds.
    Conclusion: The similarity between the novels is more likely to be coincidental than the result of plagiarism.

This prephrase matches answer choice (D). The only complication here is the fact that (D) states the comparison in terms of which cause is less likely to be the real one, not which cause is more likely. That's all :-)

Answer choices (A) and (B) contain contextual information.

Answer choice (C) states the main premise supporting the conclusion.

Answer choice (E) is an assumption upon which the conclusion depends, but it is not the main conclusion of the argument.

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,



I was choosing between answer (C) and (E) and eventually chose (C) because of the 'more likely' part in the stimulus and eliminated (E) because of the conditional structure of the answer. Would this be acceptable?
Also for clarification, I would like to ask why (E) is an assumption as you stated above.
Adam Tyson
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Eliminating E because it is conditional is good in this instance, because our conclusion is not conditional. In an argument has a conditional conclusion, then a conditional answer that matches that would be what we need. We can't have a broad rule that conditional statements are never conclusions, because sometimes they are! Here's an example:

"If it rains tomorrow, I won't work in the yard, and if I don't work in the yard, then I will repair the broken ceiling fan. Therefore, if it rains tomorrow I will repair the ceiling fan."

Here, the prephrase should save us the trouble of even considering answer C and E, because the author is trying to prove that this is probably a coincidence rather than plagiarism. Focus on that, and the right answer is totally obvious. Without a prephrase, though, you could find yourself in trouble, as many of these answers sound like something the author said. Prephrase, every time!

We can see that E is an assumption of the argument because if we negate it, it wrecks the argument: "If the authors are from similar backgrounds and have led similar lives, suspicions that either of the authors plagiarized are NOT very likely to be unwarranted." (so those suspicions are probably correct)

Now it looks like his conclusion - that it was probably coincidence - is pretty well wrecked, because plagiarism looks likely.

Use that Negation Technique to test assumptions, when called for by the stem (or by your curiosity, in this case). It's a winner every time!
Adam M. Tyson
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