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#4 - Many economically useful raw materials are nonrenewable

LustingFor!L
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Please confirm my reasoning below is correct:

Narrowed down to A and C which both toyed with the idea that resources could actually be renewable. Ultimately chose C after ruling out A, because it challenged a premise in the argument. While correct answer C, challenged the conclusion.

Thank you!
AthenaDalton
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Great question!

Your approach is a good one -- an argument which attacks the conclusion is often stronger than one that merely attacks a premise.

Here, answer choice (A) is particularly ineffective at attacking the argument since the stimulus already accounts for this weakness. The stimulus says that "many economically useful raw materials" are non-renewable, and their absence will prevent people from accomplishing what they now do with those materials. Answer choice (A) merely states that "some economically useful resources" are renewable. The stimulus already concedes that "many" important resources are non-renewable. This clearly indicates that at least "some" important resources are renewable. So answer choice (A) doesn't have much of an impact on the argument.

I hope this makes sense! :) Good luck studying.
chiickenx
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Hi, can someone please check my Blind Review explanations? Its not the most formal of explanations, just my thoughts... In any case, my main concern about this question is that while I got it correct, i just have issues with it... which leads me to a further question. To elaborate, please look at (C) below.

A. Okay, this doesn't do anything… what about the materials that aren’t…? that's the main focus of the argument… for example, consider bronze. The conclusion that if all the bronze runs out, people will be unable to accomplish what they now accomplish despite, hypothetically, iron being a renewable material still stands…

B. The level of difficulty is irrelevant to whether or not it is possible for people to accomplish what they could not accomplish. Thus, the conclusion regarding the impossibility of people accomplishing what they now accomplish still stands…

C. I guess... if bronze be replaced, it is unclear whether people would be unable to accomplish what they now accomplish… however, i take issue with this AC because philosophically speaking… they wouldn’t be able to accomplish what they now accomplish. For example, suppose we run out of bronze. In a case such as this, we would never again be able to make bronze swords, or bronze shields, etc. We would only be able to make iron swords and iron shields... thus, it is true that we would never again be able to accomplish what we now accomplish if the nonrenewable material runs out.

But then again... if we are strictly philosophically speaking, we would NEVER be able to reproduce an accomplishment: Suppose you forged King Arthur's Excalibur. If you attempt to accomplish this feat again, you would not be forging the Excalibur; but rather, you would have forged a sword with the same type of material, design, etc. that resembles Excalibur.

As such, on the LSAT i feel like sometimes we have to philosophically think and sometimes we do not have to philosophically think. When do we draw the line? That is when is it proper to philosophically think and when is it improper? The main reason why i chose (C) was because all the other ACs suck. Not because it is a good AC.

D. Idc about the worthiness of accomplishment something is... i care about the possibility...

E. Right… so in a few hundred years people wouldn't be able to accomplish what they are able to accomplish now… so wtf... this doesn’t do anything…

Thanks ahead of time!
KelseyWoods
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Hi Chiicken!

Your reasoning as to why answer choices (A), (B), (D), and (E) are incorrect is spot on--great job at eliminating those losers!

So let's talk a bit about your issues with answer choice (C). First, you note that the main reason you chose this answer choice is because the other answer choices suck. That's a perfectly valid reason to choose an answer choice! Remember that our goal is always to choose the best answer of the 5 choices provided. That sometimes means that the correct answer will end up being an answer choice that we don't really like, but it's still better than all the other options we have. This is why eliminating incorrect answer choices is just as important a skill as recognizing a correct answer choice. And it served you well on this question--you figured out the correct answer because you recognized why all of the other answer choices had to be incorrect! Great job!

But I know it always feels better to really understand why a correct answer choice is correct, so let's talk through your reasoning a bit about this answer choice. I agree that the LSAT is conducive to overthinking. Unfortunately, I can't give you a precise line to tell you when you're thinking an appropriate amount vs. when you're overthinking. You get a bit of a natural feel for that the more LSAT questions you do, but sometimes you need to rely on other skills to help you out (like eliminating incorrect answers!).

With this answer choice specifically, it does tell us that the renewable substitutes would be "functionally equivalent," which basically tells us that they would function in the same way, thus allowing us to accomplish the same things. With your example, if we run out of bronze, we won't be able to make bronze swords or bronze shields, but we'd still be able to make swords and shields. I think your example with bronze might have caused you to focus more on specific products rather than on a broader idea of accomplishments. Try thinking about it in terms of energy sources. If we run out of coal, we won't be able to power our electricity using coal anymore. But we'll still be able to create electricity using other resources, like wind power. So we can't accomplish "coal powered electricity" anymore, but we can accomplish electricity. So the idea is that you can do the same thing, just using another material. We can still create swords and shields without bronze. In this case, narrowing our definition of accomplishments to be based on the material used (e.g., "bronze shields," "coal powered electricity"), is going past that "overthinking line" :)

Hope this helps!

Best,
Kelsey