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#7 - The most environmentally sensible thing to do

165OrBust
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Hello PS Team,

I always struggle with Method - AP questions, and this one was no different!

I rejected D because (1) I understood “the most environmentally sensible thing to do...” as a general principle to which the author presents an exception; and (2) I did not get the impression that the author “rejected” the view because in the conclusion, the author states that “sometimes (emphasis added) it is environmentally preferable” to not follow the widely held belief - D seemed to be an exaggerated answer.

I chose A because the argument, in my opinion, states a general principle, then presents an exception to that principle but does not completely reject it.

Would very much appreciate your advice!
Liz
Jay Donnell
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Hi Liz!

I'm glad you asked about this one, and I'm hoping I can clear up this question with a broader point to take with you to other similar situations.

Now, it's of course not a guarantee, but on the LSAT it is extremely likely that whatever is introduced early in an LR stimulus or RC passage as: widely believed, assumed, conventional wisdom, or traditionally done/understood will be challenged, updated, or flat out rejected by the author.

I joke with my students that the LSAT is one of the few places in the world where 'common sense' is a bad thing! What I mean by that is that the authors of RC passages and (valid) LR arguments speak with a kind of academic authority, and their positions help illuminate the errors of outdated or misplaced beliefs or methods. If most people already believe something to be true and they are in fact correct, what's the value of writing an academic journal article to belabor an established point?

In this case, the 'wide belief' serves as a principle that is perhaps stronger that it first seems. When it says 'the most environmentally sensible thing to do is to buy food from local farmers whenever it is available,' it implies that we should always do so when the option exists. When the author goes on to show an exception to that, even one that only 'sometimes' exists, it still serves to reject the overly broad strength of that original principle.

In regards to A, I think it's not particularly likely to find a Method - Argument Part answer to give credit to a principle that the author attempts to argue against by claiming it as 'a principle upon which the reasoning in the argument is based.' That implies that our overall point is in some large or small way supported by the principle, which of course here is not the case. It could have likely gotten away with saying: 'a principle which the reasoning in the argument is designed to address,' so hopefully that difference in tone comes through as clear to you.

I hope that helps, please let me know if I can offer any additional clarity!
165OrBust
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Thank you Jay, you imparted some great nuggets of wisdom here!

Perhaps the crux of my my issue lies in my understanding of the phrase “upon which the argument is based”. Is it accurate to generalize that “if a premise is indeed upon which the argument is based, it must both agree with and lead to the conclusion”?

My own confusion aside, I have already taken away two key points from your response:

(1) You identified an essential component of the principle which I overlooked: the use of the word “whenever”. I see now that the author refutes the principle based on that word alone.

(2) I am adding a note to my LR Bible to read the stimulus in the voice of my old Comparative Politics prof - he loved “illuminating the errors of outdated or misplaced beliefs or methods” (as you put it), but was wonderful despite coming across as extraordinarily pedantic! (Prof H, if you’re reading this, I say it only with the upmost admiration and respect! :-D )

Thanks again Jay!
Liz
Jay Donnell
PowerScore Staff
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I'm sure that old Professor H is currently too busy re-patching the elbow pads on his tweed jacket to be too upset about that! :-D

It helps to think of an argument as a pyramid. The base is a premise, the peak is the main conclusion, and there is occasionally a middle layer that is made up by an intermediate/subsidiary conclusion. In that image, the argument is literally based on what lies beneath it, so the subsidiary conclusion (if there) is based on/supported by the premise beneath it, and same goes for the main conclusion up top.

Keep up the good work!
165OrBust
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That’s a great analogy, which I am also adding to my Bible. Many thanks Jay! (And also for indulging a touch of humour!)

Liz