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#22 - The writing styles in works of high literary quality

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Complete Question Explanation

Resolve the Paradox. The correct answer choice is (C)

The stimulus contains a fact set. On one hand, judges try to avoid misinterpretation of their
decisions, which is why their writing is rarely of high literary quality. On the other, it is not
uncommon to find writing of high literary quality in dissenting judicial opinions, which are
sometimes included when a panel of judges decides on a case. The question stem asks us to resolve
this apparent discrepancy.

Note that the stimulus does not contain a true paradox, just an odd situation that is presented
without explanation. The correct answer must explain how the situation came into being while
allowing both sides of the situation to be factually correct. More specifically, it must explain why
the literary quality of dissenting opinions differs from that of judicial opinions that are intended as
determinations of law.

Answer choice (A): It is irrelevant many judges have an influence on the way a dissenting opinion is
written. This answer choice cannot explain the difference in literary styles between the two types of
judicial opinions being compared.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice may seem attractive, because it explains why most legal
opinions might be of relatively low literary quality—they rely heavily on the use of technical
terminology. However, this answer choice provides only a partial explanation of the phenomenon
described in the stimulus, as it fails to account for the high literary quality of dissenting opinions.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. If the law were not determined by
dissenting opinions, then their authors would have no obligation to write them in a manner that
averts misinterpretation. Such authors would be at liberty to express themselves as they see fit,
including through high literary prose. As this answer choice explains the difference in literary styles
between the two types of judicial opinions, it is correct.

Answer choice (D): As with answer choice (B), this statement provides only a partial explanation as
to why legal opinions might be of relatively low literary quality. After all, if judges spend little time
reading works of high literary quality, no wonder their own writing lacks such quality. Unfortunately,
this observation fails to explain why dissenting opinions differ from most other judicial opinions.
This answer choice attempts to explain a difference with a similarity, which is never correct in a
Resolve question.

Answer choice (E): How widely judicial decisions are read is immaterial to the issue at hand. Even
if decisions issued by panels of judges are more widely read than are decisions issued by a single
judge, this would not explain why the dissenting opinions included in cases heard by a panel of
judges are different from the rest. This answer choice deviates from the discrepancy we need to
explain: the question is not why the decisions issued by panels of judges are different from the
decisions issued by a single judge.
smile22
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I am extremely confused by this stimulus (no surprise considering that it is Q22!). I greatly appreciate it if this stimulus could be explained to me. Because I wasn't too sure what was going on in the stimulus, I had a hard time eliminating answer choices.
Nikki Siclunov
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Hey smile22,

You are right - this is a rather convoluted stimulus. Let's simplify it:

The stimulus contains a fact set: Judges don't want their decisions misinterpreted, which is why their writing is rarely of high literary quality (it's simple and to-the-point). For some reason, however, dissenting judicial opinions have a different style, one that exhibits higher literary qualities. The question stem asks us to resolve this apparent discrepancy.

Note that the stimulus does not contain a true paradox, just an odd situation that is presented without explanation. The correct answer must explain how the situation came into being while allowing both sides of the situation to be factually correct. More specifically, it must explain why the literary quality of dissenting opinions differs from that of judicial opinions that are intended as determinations of law. Answer choice (C) fits the bill: if the law were not determined by dissenting opinions, then their authors would have no obligation to write them in a manner that averts misinterpretation. Such authors would be at liberty to express themselves as they see fit, including through high literary prose.

Does that makes sense? Let me know!
Nikki Siclunov
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Frank
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Hey,

Just wondering about question 22. I understand why C is the correct answer choice I can see how it would strengthen the author's claim, but I don't really understand how the other answer choices weaken his statement.


Thanks for your help.

Frank
Lucas Moreau
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Hello, Frank,

Question 22 is tough - it's Resolve the Paradox, which gives a lot of test-takers trouble. I'm glad you were able to get C as the correct answer choice! :)

C doesn't so much strengthen the author's claim as it does bring the two elements of the author's claim into harmony. To wit:

Claim 1: "The writing styles in works of high literary quality are not well suited to the avoidance of misinterpretation. For this reason, the writing in judicial decisions, which are primarily intended as determinations of law, is rarely of high literary quality."
Claim 2: "However, it is not uncommon to find writing of high literary quality in dissenting opinions, which are sometimes included in written decisions in cases heard by a panel of judges."

Boiled down somewhat:

C1: Writing in JD rarely of HLQ, since too easy to misinterpret
C2: Writing in dissenting opinions, sometimes part of JD, not uncommonly of HLQ

Answer choice C brings those two claims together, by showing that dissenting opinions are not used to make determinations of law. This means that they can be written with high literary quality, since they don't have to worry about being misinterpreted. (Actually, dissenting opinions are very important in law...but that's a bit complicated to get into here. ;) )

The other answer choices don't provide any avenue for both claims to be true.

- A is totally irrelevant. The number of judges writing has nothing to do with either claim.
- B is mostly irrelevant. The paradox that needs resolving is about written opinions versus dissenting opinions.
- D is wholly irrelevant. Nobody cares what judges read in their off-hours, at least, not for the purposes of this question. :-D
- E is a cipher, trying to trick you into choosing it by mentioning panels of judges. But it doesn't touch on the conflict of different writing styles.

Hope that helps,
Lucas Moreau
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- E is a cipher, trying to trick you into choosing it by mentioning panels of judges. But it doesn't touch on the conflict of different writing styles.


Bugger. Looking at the answer choice again it's so obvious to me that E isn't the answer, however, I could only really reach C as the correct answer by eliminating the rest. I see why C makes sense as the answer, but I sort of thought the answer would be along the lines of "dissenting opinions" are less commonly read OR that it doesn't matter if dissenting opinions are misinterpreted.

But I see now how C is the only choice that actually makes sense. Is it normal to sometimes read answer choices completely wrong somehow during the test? I feel like that every now and then my eyes just cross over when I'm reading and I completely misunderstand the simplest English sentences!
Robert Carroll
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al,

It's ok if your prephrase doesn't match any answer. Sometimes, there are multiple things that could resolve a paradox, or multiple items of new information that could weaken an answer choice, etc. What you thought of might not be among the answers, but a different answer that is still correct could be there. That's why you have to be flexible and evaluate all five answer choices, knowing that an answer choice may say something you never thought of, but which is still correct. If you eliminated everything but answer choice (C), you got the correct answer, and that's the goal!

You have to focus on the specific wording of answer choices. The testmakers know that one word can make a great deal of difference, and that a careless reading may completely misinterpret an answer. Read carefully and know exactly what was said! I'll confess - sometimes I miss a word during a reading. You just have to be cautious!

Robert Carroll
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Hello,

Would another reason as to why E is incorrect is that it is also irrelevant because the Answer choice says judicial decisions issued by panels of judges are likely to be more widely read...... The stimulus does not mention what is widely read, the focus (conclusion) has to deal with high literary quality in dissenting opinions, not what is widely read. I'm trying to narrow down the correct and incorrect answers as I am going through my tests. Thankyou for your great explanations.

Sarah
Jonathan Evans
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Sarah, yes. Answer choice (E) is completely irrelevant. It fails to address either side of our question:

"Why is it that judicial opinions are rarely of high literary quality but dissenting opinions commonly are?"

We need an answer to this question. As noted, it hinges on whether or not the opinions will be determinations of law. Answer choice (E) just doesn't cut it.