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#12 - One should apologize only to a person one has wronged

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Complete Question Explanation

Must Be True. The correct answer choice is (E)

The author of this stimulus presents a number of requirements that go along with giving a sincere apology, and with sincerely accepting an apology. First, one should apologize only to someone that person has wronged, and only for having wronged them. Further, a sincere apology requires acknowledgment of one’s wrongful act, and an intention not to repeat that wrongful act:

    ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... acknowledgement of wrongful act
    sincere apology offering ..... :arrow: ..... ..... ..... ..... +
    ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... intention not to repeat wrongful act
Finally, the author provides that a sincere acceptance of an apology requires both acknowledging the wrongdoing and a vow not to hold a grudge:

    ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... acknowledgement of wrongful act
    sincere apology acceptance ..... :arrow: ..... ..... ..... ..... +
    ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... vow not to hold a grudge

The stimulus is followed by a Must Be True question, so the right answer choice will be confirmed by the information from the stimulus, likely by the conditional statements diagrammed above.

Answer choice (A): The author provides that a sincere apology requires the intent not to repeat the act; however, a subsequent repeat offense does not necessarily mean that the requisite intent was absent at the time of the apology. This choice fails the Fact Test and should be ruled out of contention for this Must Be True question.

Answer choice (B): According to the information provided in the stimulus, the sincere acceptance of an apology requires acknowledgement of the wrongful act and a vow not to hold a grudge. The author does not say that the apology has to have been offered sincerely, so this choice is not confirmed by the information from the stimulus.

Answer choice (C): The stimulus specifies that one should apologize only for having wronged another person, not that a sincere apology is due for having committed any wrongful act, so this choice can be ruled out of contention.

Answer choice (D): The author provides that a sincere apology offering requires acknowledgement of the wrongful act and intent not to repeat the act, but the stimulus does not specify that the apology be capable of being sincerely accepted, so this choice is not confirmed by the stimulus and cannot be the right answer to this question.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. As is reflected in the conditional diagrams in the discussion of the stimulus, a sincere apology offering requires acknowledgment of the wrongful act, as does a sincere apology acceptance, confirming this as the correct answer to this Must Be True question.
lsatstudier
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Hi,

Could someone please explain why the answer is E? I thought it was A. I'm starting to get frustrated because I thought I understood MBT questions yet I am still getting tripped up on exams, especially with the questions that deal with moral issues like this one or being prudent, etc.

Thank you so much!
Kristina Moen
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lsatstudier,

This stimulus contained conditional reasoning. You can treat it mechanistically. It doesn't matter if it's about apologizing, prudence, wronging someone, morality, or those others terms that tend to sound a bit fuzzy. If you treat it mechanistically, then you don't have to think about what it means or conceptualize the terms.

So here's how I approach a question like this. As soon as I see a Conditional Reasoning Indicator, my pencil hits the paper. Here, we've got a conditional indicator right away! The word "only" is a Necessary Condition Indicator, so I diagram the first sentence as:
Apologize -> To the person wronged AND for having wronged the person.

It's important to know that you could have wronged someone, but that doesn't mean you have to apologize! But if you DO apologize, it's necessary that it be to the person wronged and for having wronged them. So I can't go up to the wronged person's Grandma and say "Sorry." I'd have to go to the person wronged and say "Sorry for eating all your bananas!" :-D

Here's the next sentence diagrammed: Apologize sincerely -> Acknowledging that one acted wrongfully.

But the third sentence has a Conditional Reasoning Indicator that is special: "Unless." When you encounter the word "unless," it's a necessary condition, and you negate the other part to get the sufficient condition. So again, I'm just treating this mechanistically. I'm not thinking about whether it makes sense. I'm not conceptualizing it in my head. So I would diagram this as:
Apologize -> Intend not to repeat harmful act. I negated "cannot apologize" to simply "apologize."

Here's the last sentence diagrammed: Accept apology sincerely -> acknowledge a wrong AND vow not to hold a grudge.

So let's put it all together (and of course, on the real test you won't be typing out explanations, so the diagrams will be right there in one place):
Apologize -> To the person wronged AND for having wronged the person.
Apologize sincerely -> Acknowledge that one acted wrongfully.
Apologize -> Intend not to repeat harmful act.
Accept apology sincerely -> Acknowledge a wrong AND vow not to hold a grudge.

So treating this mechanistically, let's diagram answer choice (A) and (E).

Answer choice (A): Apologize and repeats the wrongful act -> Not sincere. Looks pretty good, but I've hit a snag. The third sentence is about intent, not about action. Apologizing sincerely requires an INTENT not to repeat the harmful act. Someone who repeats the wrongful act may have intended not to repeat it when they apologized. If I were doing this question, I probably wouldn't think about it so deeply and just keep it. It has an "off" word (repeating the act, rather than intending to repeat the act), but I'd keep it in case nothing else looks good.

Answer choice (E): Ah, the word "unless" again. Remember, "unless" signals a necessary condition, and you negate the other part to get the sufficient. I'm doing this mechanistically. I diagram this as:
Apology sincerely offered and accepted -> acknowledge a wrongful act occurred

YES! It's a perfect match. The stimulus told me that acknowledging you acted wrongfully is a requirement for apologizing sincerely. And acknowledging the wrong is a requirement for accepting an apology sincerely. It's a perfect match, as you always hope on a Must Be True question.

I know this was a really long explanation. When you're doing practice questions, just get used to putting your pencil to the paper whenever you see a Conditional Reasoning Indicator. You can solve questions like this mechanistically!
Pragmatism
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So I was stuck between A & E and ended up choosing the incorrect answer. I see the conditional reasoning you have diagrammed, but I am still missing how the answer choice is correct by meeting only 1/2 of the necessary condition “acknowledge a wrongful act” needed to constitute any of those conditional reasoning correct.

acknowledgement of wrongful act (AWA)
1. sincere apology offering (AO) ———————>. +
intention not to repeat wrongful act (~IRWA)

acknowledgement of wrongful act (AWA)
2. sincere accept. apology (AA) ———————>. +
Vow not to hold grudge (~HG)

The Contrapositive would be:

1. ~AWA or IRWA —-> ~AO

2. ~AWA OR HG ——> ~AA

I cannot see any way how 1 & 2 share something in common other than that 1/2 of a necessary assumption. Please help.
James Finch
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Hi Pragmatism,

Your diagrams look correct, so I'm not sure where your confusion lies. Acknowledging a wrongful act occurred is one of two necessary conditions that must be fulfilled for both offering and acceptance of a sincere apology. In both diagrams, not acknowledging that a wrongful act occurred may act as a sole sufficient condition, so neither offering nor acceptance of a sincere apology would be possible. Consider:

Acknowledge Wrongful Act :arrow: Offer a Sincere Apology + Accept a Sincere Apology

Let me know if this clears things up.
Pragmatism
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Thank you for the clarification!