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#11 - Beverage company representative: The plastic rings

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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (C)

Looking at this stimulus in regards to an assumption question, we must, as always, note where the gap in logic lies. We are told that the rings will disintegrate after three days' exposure to sunlight and, therefore, the threat of suffocation posed to wild animals will be eliminated. What is missing? We do not have any information to ensure us that nothing will happen to the animals prior to those crucial three days of exposure, so that is the gap we need to fill.

Answer Choice (A): This answer choice actually somewhat weakens the stimulus argument. If we could assume that some of the plastic rings would disintegrate after two days that would possibly lower the threat of suffocation.

Answer Choice (B): This is great for the beverage companies, but does nothing for the argument itself.

Answer Choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. Here is where we fill in the gap on those all important three days. Now that we know that nothing will happen to the animals during those three days, the argument is logically whole.

Answer Choice (D): This answer choice is eliminated by the stimulus phrase, "once we complete the switchover from the old to the new plastic rings." The stimulus has already addressed this issue, and therefore it cannot be the assumption on which the argument depends.

Answer Choice (E): While this information definitely supports the plan to switch over to the new rings, it is not necessary for the conclusion to be true.
J_E
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In this question, the premises are:

- Plastic rings that hold six-packs are a threat to wild animals because they become entangled and suffocate as a result

- All beverage companies will soon use only plastic that disintegrates within 3 days of being exposed to sunlight

The conclusion is:

"Once we all complete the switchover from the old to the new plastic rings, therefore, the threat of suffocation that plastic rings pose to wild animals will be eliminated."

My question is, would it be a good idea to apply conditional reasoning knowledge to this question? For example:

If/once/when we switch over to new plastic (sufficient), then the threat of suffocation to wild animals will be eliminated.

So: Switch -> /Threat of suffocation

Then all you need to do is attack the necessary condition (threat of suffocation), and C is a perfect fit, because it doesn't deny the sufficient condition, but says that the necessary does not "necessarily" have to happen.

Any opinions on this method?
Dave Killoran
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Hi J,

Thanks for the question! You can certainly look at it that way because that relationship is completely valid. When they establish that point of time as a cutoff with a subsequent occurrence, they've created a conditional relationship. And as you reference, you can attack a conditional relationship by undermining the necessity of the necessary condition.

With (C), I think you mean that the negation of (C) then attacks the necessary condition (a point of clarity I mention for other readers--we want to avoid any confusion :-D ). That's exactly the case, and since the Assumption Negation Technique turns an Assumption question into a Weaken question, the negation of (C) then attacks that necessary condition.

Good work on that. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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mankariousc
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Hello!

Could you please explain why A and E are wrong? I tried to use the Assumption Negation technique on both these answer choices and I got a little confused.

Thanks!
Kristina Moen
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Hi mankariousc,

Here's how you would negate answer choices (A) and (E), keeping in mind that the conclusion to the stimulus is "Once we all complete the switchover from the old to the new plastic rings, therefore, the threat of suffocation that plastic rings pose to wild animals will be eliminated." When you negate an answer choice and it kills the conclusion, then that answer choice must have been necessary. (An analogy: If part of your car breaks, and your car won't run, that means the part was necessary. But if part of your car breaks (say, the hood ornament), and your car runs fine, then it's not necessary.)

"None of the new plastic rings can disintegrate after only two days' exposure to sunlight" becomes "Some of the new plastic rings can disintegrate after only two days' exposure to sunlight." Does this kill the conclusion? No, if anything it makes it stronger! Some of the plastic rings actually disintegrate faster than three days. We negate "none" to "some" because they are logical opposites.

"Any wild animal that becomes entangled in the old plastic rings will suffocate as a result" becomes "Not every wild animal that becomes entangled in the old plastic rings will suffocate as a result." Does this kill the conclusion? No, just because some animals survived in the past doesn't mean that the new plastic rings won't still eliminate the threat altogether. That's like saying "Hey, these new airbags will eliminate the threat of concussion during an accident" and someone responding with "Well, only 95% of people got a concussion with the old airbags!"