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#20 - Social critic: One of the most important ways in which

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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (D)

The stimulus states that moral socialization is a way in which society socializes children by making
them feel ashamed of their immoral behavior. This seems like an appropriate action since immoral
behavior is likely harmful to society, however the social critic concludes that moral socialization actually
results in guilt and self-loathing for many people and thereby increases the net amount of suffering in
society. In personalizing this argument, hopefully the flaw is clear: just because an action affects some
people negatively does not mean that the overall effect of that action – the net effect – is negative. In this
case, the amount of suffering that some people feel as a result of moral socialization could be far less
than the suffering prevented by moral socialization, and the net effect would ultimately be a reduced
amount of suffering (even though not everyone would experience that effect). Also, be careful to note
here that, although the social critic does not recommend altering or eliminating moral socialization in the
stimulus, nor is an alternative suggestion proposed, this omission is not necessarily a flaw; this will help
to eliminate incorrect answer choices.

Answer choice (A): The social critic’s argument is vulnerable to criticism only in so far as it fails
to prove its conclusion (greater net suffering). Any other considerations are beyond the scope of the
argument. The critic does not propose that social moralization be eliminated and so cannot be criticized
for failing to consider alternatives to that elimination.

Answer choice (B): It may be true that moral socialization sometimes occurs without causing guilt and
self-loathing or that guilt and self-loathing may occur without moral socialization, but the critic already
believes that moral socialization causally contributes to feelings of guilt and self-loathing. Suggesting
that cases where one phenomenon occurs without the other can be dismissed does not describe the flaw
in the social critic’s argument.

Answer choice (C): Remember, the correct answer choice in a Flaw in the Reasoning question must
come directly from the stimulus (similar to Must be True), hence any answer choice that introduces new
information not discussed in the stimulus can be immediately eliminated. The social critic’s argument
is that moral socialization results in more harm than good, however there is never any mention in the
stimulus of changing or eliminating moral socialization, so answer choice (C) is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. The social critic proposes that moral
socialization leads to guilt and self-loathing which increase the net amount of suffering in society.
However, the critic fails to consider that moral socialization may also decrease the amount of suffering
in society by limiting the amount of immoral behavior. The argument is flawed because it is possible
that more suffering is prevented by the decrease in immoral behavior than is caused by the increase in
feelings of guilt, and thus there is no net increase in the total amount of suffering.

Answer choice (E): The critic does not presume that everyone will respond negatively to moral
socialization; he or she only presumes that some number of people respond negatively enough to
increase the net amount of suffering in society. This answer choice is not a valid description of the flaw
in the social critic’s argument.
smile22
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Hello, I am having a lot of trouble trying to figure out what the flaw is in this argument, but I can't seem to figure it out. I chose answer E. Why is this answer wrong? Why is answer D correct? Thank you in advance for your help.
Steve Stein
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Hi Smile,

In that one, the social critic says that children shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of immoral behavior, because that can lead to guild, self-loathing, and hardship.

The problem is that the author hasn't considered the possibility that shaming children for immoral behavior can have an upside as well.

Answer choice (D) correctly states that the author takes for granted that shaming kids for immoral behavior, which can lead to self-loathing and guilt, could not also be helping to avoid guilt, self-loathing, and hardship.

I hope that's helpful! Please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
PowerScore Test Preparation
smile22
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That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!
mN2mmvf
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Hi,

I don't understand why it's correct to say that the critic "takes for granted that a behavior that sometimes leads to a certain phenomenon cannot also significantly reduce the overall occurrence of that phenomenon."

I took the usage of the word "net" in the stimulus to mean that the critic *had* considered that the behavior (socializing) did, in fact, lead to both suffering (via guilt and self-loathing) and the reduction of suffering (via socialization)...just that, on net, the suffering caused was more than the suffering reduced.

I expected the flaw to be simply that in fact there was more suffering reduced than caused, and thus the conclusion of net suffering was wrong. I don't see how the critic necessarily took for granted that a net suffering reduction was *not even possible.* It seems very possible according to the stimulus.
Adam Tyson
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The key word here, mN2mmvf, is not "net" but "significantly". The author is presuming that the suffering caused by instilling guilt and self-loathing in many people (not necessarily all people, nor even necessarily most people) is greater than the total amount of suffering that might have been caused by just allowing everyone to engage in unchecked immoral behavior. That assumes that the suffering avoided by socialization is, relatively speaking, insignificant.

Was there another answer that you liked better than this one? If not, even though you may have disliked the correct answer, you should still pick it as the one you hate the least, because it is the best answer. A lot of students run into this problem on many questions, disliking all five answer choices but conceding that one of them might be okay. The instructions don't say to pick the right answer or a good answer, but only the best answer of the five presented. Sometimes that means picking the answer you hate the least, and not arguing with it or worrying about how it could have been written better. That realization is, for many of my students, a major breakthrough that leads to greater confidence, greater accuracy, greater speed moving through the answer choices and the questions, and ultimately increased scores. Don't fight the answers! That's a good way to lose the war!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
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mN2mmvf
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Thanks Adam. No, there was no other answer I liked more. I'd just read somewhere (maybe in PowerScore, I can't remember) that the right answers are 100% right and the wrong answers are 100% wrong, and the test only talks about the "best" answer as a way of covering their butt just in case. But I see what you mean and I think that's good advice; lately I've been forcing myself to move through the LR sections much more quickly and it's helping me just pick an answer with confidence and move on. I feared it would result in sloppiness at first, but it's turned out to help quite a bit.
Adam Tyson
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I've read that too, and I have come to interpret it to mean only that one answer is clearly better than the others and there really isn't any subjective analysis required. I have, however, seen plenty of answers that are, frankly, junk, but still head and shoulders above the rest, so I cling to my argument that you should focus on "best" and forget about "good" or "right" answers. The best answer is always clearly the best and is therefore unquestionably, 100% the best answer, but that doesn't mean it has to be very good on its own merits! Much like the law in that way, I found, where the best outcome isn't always a good one, but still better than the rest.

Keep up the good work!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
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