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#24 - Ethicist: A society is just when, and only when, first

ellenb
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Dear Powerscore,

For this question, I picked D as the answer, however, I know that C is the right answer. I just want to know what makes C wrong and what makes D right.

Thanks

Ellen
Steve Stein
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Hi Ellen,

In that one, the Ethicist sets up some rules about justice and society:

The requirements for a society, which must be met, and are sufficient ("when, and only when")to be just are as follows:

1) each person has an equal right to basic liberties.
2) The only time that unequal distribution of wealth/income is tolerated is when it is to everyone's benefit and attached to jobs open to everyone.

Note that #2 would be diagrammed as follows:

unequal distribution of wealth tolerated :arrow: everyone's benefit, open to all...

The contrapositive would be as follows:

NOT to everyone's benefit, open to all :arrow: unequal wealth dist NOT tolerated

The society in answer choice D violates the first rule, so it is proper to say that the society discussed is not just.

The problem with answer choice C can be seen most clearly by referring to the diagrams above. Having everyone benefit and jobs open to all is a necessary condition to the tolerance of unequal wealth distribution; it is not sufficient to guarantee that a society is just.

Tricky conditional language--let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
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ellenb
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thanks Steve,

1)So, it can violate only one of the rules and it will be not just, it does not have to violate both of them to be unjust?

2)Also,

unequal distribution of wealth tolerated --> everyone's benefit, open to all...

The contrapositive would be as follows:

NOT to everyone's benefit, open to all --> unequal wealth dist NOT tolerated

You put commas, for the first statement, did you mean to put (and later an or for the contrapositive ):


unequal distribution of wealth tolerated --> everyone's benefit and open to all...

The contrapositive would be as follows:

NOT to everyone's benefit or open to all-->unequal wealth dist NOT tolerated


3) Also, for the last part, when you mentioned that the language is tricky for answer choice C, is it like

Just <->Requirements (so it is like if and only if statement)

However, within the requirements they have them broken down into
A -->B and C
so we have

Just <---> (A-->B and C)

so for answer choice C, we have a violation of the last statement, B and C-->A (sort of like a MR) correct?

And since we have the requirements incorrectly aligned than we cannot conclude that the society is just.

Thanks

Ellen
Steve Stein
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Hi Ellen,

Right on all counts. Nice work--that one's tricky even for conditional reasoning--particularly the last part with unless: The only time that distributive inequality is tolerated is when it's to everyone's advantage, and attached to jobs open to everyone. But, of course, that doesn't mean that advantage and openness guarantee a just society.

Good question! Please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
PowerScore Test Preparation
sarae
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is E incorrect because it doesn't mention if the inequalities are to everyone's advantage?

thanks!
KelseyWoods
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Exactly, sarae! E has most of the principle described in the stimulus but, as you point out, it's missing that one key component.

Kelsey
wayouteast
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Was just wondering if the way I diagrammed the stimulus is inappropriate since it deviates somewhat from what Steve and others were working with above.

A :dbl: B & C

A: Society Just
B: Equal right to basic liberties
C: (inequality tolerated :arrow: everyones advantage & jobs open to everyone)

I was able to narrow it down to A/D and mistakenly chose A by missing the "most", which would negate C in the diagrammed above and therefore classify the society as unjust due to the biconditional.
D: negates B and therefore causes ~A and is therefore the correct answer.

Thanks!
Adam Tyson
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You're not so far out after all, wayouteast! Your diagram conforms perfectly to what ellenb suggested earlier in this thread, which Steve agreed was correct. Well done! Good on you for catching the "most" problem in answer A, even after the fact. It's that kind of attention in the post-test review stage that builds up your skill set, leading to greater confidence and accuracy on future tests. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you are making progress. Well done!
Adam M. Tyson
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sydnew
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Hello!

So I have read all the responses on this question and still am not quite understanding how to read the conditional reasoning. I don't quite see how the answers lead to S being just or unjust. I had originally chose B but it was more of a guess. I guess I just need help understanding how the answers would be diagrammed.

I had diagrammed:
just --> equal right to basic liberties
+
inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth are tolerated --> inequalities are to everyone's advantage, open to all

So for B, when it says "at the expense of creating inequalities..." does that mean I negate it? If so, I considered S not being just...

Help!!

Thank you!
Claire Horan
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Hi Sydnew,

An if and only if can be represented by the double arrow: :dbl:
The relationship is definitional. Both sides are both sufficient and necessary. (Example: A square is a quadrilateral with four equal sides and four interior right angles AND a quadrilateral with four equal sides and four interior right angles is a square.)

So, you can diagram this as:

Just society :dbl: equal right to basic liberties AND (inequalities are to everyone’s advantage or are attached to jobs open to everyone :arrow: inequalities tolerated

If a society is just, it must satisfy those two requirements and if a society satisfies those two requirements, it is just. If you had trouble diagramming the unless part, please review the unless formula.

You don't need to diagram the answers--that would take a long time. Instead, read each answer choice as you walk through the general diagram you've made to see if it matches.

(A) fails because the jobs are only open to "most" people. It has to be an exact match, with the jobs open to everyone.

(B) does not conform to the principle because, on only the information that we have, we can't tell whether the society is just or not. We would need to know whether the inequalities are to everyone's advantages and are attached to jobs that are open to everyone, and we don't know that.

(C) states one of the two requirements but doesn't give information about the other requirement, so we don't have enough information to conclude whether or not the society is just.

(D) is the right answer because the principle states that a just society requires equal rights to basic liberties. Because D describes a society without equal rights to basic liberties, society S must not be just.

(E) leaves out whether the inequalities are to everyone's advantage.

I hope this helps!