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#2 - Essayist: Earth is a living organism, composed of

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Complete Question Explanation

Method of Reasoning—Argument Part. The correct answer choice is (A)

In any LSAT logic reasoning question which contains a conclusion, it is essential to correctly identify
and isolate that conclusion. This stimulus is structured as follows:

Conclusion: Earth is a living organism, composed of other organisms much as animals are composed of
cells, not merely a thing upon which creatures live.

Premise: This hypothesis is supported by the fact that, like all organisms, Earth can be said to have
a metabolism and to regulate its temperature, humidity, and other characteristics, divorced from the
influences of its surroundings.

Premise: Of course, Earth does not literally breathe, but neither do insects (they have no lungs), though
they respire successfully.

The second premise regarding insects breathing is unusual and most test takers are immediately drawn to
it because, unlike the first premise, this sentence is not offered as direct evidence to support the essayist’s
claim. Instead, this sentence is a response to a potential objection against the essayist’s conclusion. For
instance, someone reading this essay might say to themselves, “Well, maybe the Earth can be said to
have a metabolism and regulate itself, but it does not breathe and every living organism has to breathe,
right? Therefore, the Earth must not be a living organism.” In anticipation of this objection, the essayist
concedes that Earth does not literally breathe but offers an example of something else which does not
breathe and must be considered a living organism. Therefore, some things that do not literally breathe,
such as Earth and insects, are nonetheless living organisms. This premise could be classified as a
Defender premise, as it defends the conclusion against a possible criticism.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. As was discussed in the analysis of the
stimulus, some readers might seek to reject the essayist’s hypothesis on the basis of Earth’s not
breathing. The assertion that insects also do not literally breathe provides a reason for not rejecting the
claim on this basis alone. Whether the conclusion is actually valid or not is irrelevant and remains to be
proven (for example, one might point out that the essayist has failed to prove that, like insects, the Earth
respires successfully).

Answer choice (B): This is a fairly obvious Opposite Answer. Even the most balanced and objective
LSAT author will never attempt to explicitly disprove his or her own conclusion. In any case where a
conclusion is present, the author of the stimulus is completely committed to that conclusion. Since this
stimulus presents only one viewpoint, any evidence that the author presents within the stimulus will be
given in an attempt to support that viewpoint (although authors will sometimes mistakenly undermine
their own conclusion by presenting conflicting information – this type of flaw is often referred to as an
Internal Contradiction – it is never the author’s intention to do so).

Answer choice (C): The essayist does posit that all organisms, including Earth, “can be said to have
a metabolism.” However, the example of insects in the third sentence is not given in order to support
this claim. Rather, both premises are used to support the primary conclusion that “Earth is a living
organism.”

Answer choice (D): The essayist does not feel that Earth or insects are a type of organism whose status
is unclear. In fact, the essayist presumes that the status of insects as living organisms is unquestionably
clear. If the author had any question about the status of insects as living organisms, they would not be
given as support for the conclusion that some things which do not literally breathe can be considered
living organisms.

Answer choice (E): Though it can be reasonably inferred that insects are a type of organism out of which
Earth is composed, this inference does not explain why the essayist points out that insect do not literally
breathe. The correct answer choice must do so, as was seen in answer choice (A).