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#16 - A popular complaint about abstract expressionist

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Lsat180Please
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Hi! Can you please break this question down and specifically discuss A vs. B? thanks! I knew the shift in wording from "aesthetically better" to "aesthetically pleasing" in the conclusion was the leap, but I still found this question tricky and would appreciate a breakdown. Thanks!
James Finch
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Hi Lsat180Please,

Good catch on the wording! The conflation of relative qualities with absolute ones ("aesthetically better" vs "aesthetically pleasing") is a commonly tested subject on the LSAT, and test takers should always have it in the back of their minds whenever a comparison between two things is made in a stimulus. That is what is being tested here, not as a flaw, but as a necessary assumption to make the argument work. This leads to a powerful prephrase: in order for us to know the abstract impressionist paintings are "pleasing," rather than just better (but still bad!), we have to assume the preschoolers' paintings are good enough that anything better is automatically above the "aesthetically pleasing" threshold.

Only (B) does this, and we can test it out by using the Assumption Negation method:

Most of the preschoolers' painting were aesthetically displeasing

:arrow:

abstract expressionist paintings are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing

This works perfectly, confirming that (B) is the correct answer choice.

Hope this clears things up!
Lsat180Please
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Thank you so much. That was really helpful. Could you also explain why answer choice A was wrong? B was definitely closing the holes in the argument but why does A not have to be true for the argument? thanks!
Adam Tyson
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Since this is an Assumption question, Lsat180Please, let's try our virtually infallible Negation Technique on it! What would it do to the argument if people are not any better at judging a painting when comparing it to another painting than they are when just looking at it in isolation? What if the comparison made no difference? Well then these people might still have determined that they liked the abstract expressionist painting, or not, with no reference to anything being "better" than anything else. So what? Could it still be true that abstract paintings are aesthetically pleasing? Sure, why not? The argument could still be valid. Since the negation of answer A doesn't really impact the quality of the argument, it is not a necessary assumption of the argument, and A is therefore not the correct answer.

Practice that negation technique, and it will almost never (maybe never?) let you down!
Adam M. Tyson
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