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#14 - The authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey has long

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Complete Question Explanation

Justify the Conclusion—PR. The correct answer choice is (B)

This stimulus discusses the question of who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Since there is no overwhelming evidence for or against the traditional attribution to Homer, the author asserts that we should accept this "verdict of tradition."

The question stem asks for the most accurate description of the principle at work in the stimulus, which is roughly this: without overwhelming evidence in either direction, we should accept traditional theory.

Answer choice (A): The author does not argue that we should suspend judgment, so this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, expressing the author's assertion that we should defer to tradition in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Answer choice (C): This choice lacks the component of deferring to tradition, so this cannot be the principle at work in the stimulus.

Answer choice (D): The author asserts that one should accept the authority of tradition, but has no requirement of "non-traditional evidence."

Answer choice (E): The author's point is not that we should defer to tradition based on conflicting hypothesis, but that we should do so in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary.
FIDELIO
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The authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey has long been debated...we ought to accept the verdict of tradition that Homer is the principal author of both works.

I chose C

OA says B is the correct answer. How can be? (no pun intended)

B looks good but does NOT indicate that we should accept the tradition only that we should not accept the hypothesis that goes against it.
Andrew Ash
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Hi Fidelio,

Thanks for your question!

For those of you following along, we're talking about a question from our Full-Length Course, Lesson 10, page 10-46, #30. This is a Justify the Conclusion/Principle question type.

The stimulus lays out two alternatives: either Homer authored the Iliad and the Odyssey, or he didn't. It concludes that we should believe that he did, even though there isn't "overwhelming evidence" for either side, because tradition holds that Homer was the author.

What we're looking for here is a general principle that will favor the first hypothesis (Homer was the author) over the second (Homer wasn't). Answer choice (B) might seem confusing at first, but you'll notice that it forces us to reject the second hypothesis: there's no overwhelming evidence for it, and it goes against tradition, so it must not be right. This is an either/or situation, with only two possibilities, so if we reject the second hypothesis, we have to accept the first one. That's why answer choice (B) justifies the conclusion.

The problem with answer choice (C) is that it doesn't allow us to choose one hypothesis over the other. If we accept the principle behind answer choice (C), we are forced to accept both hypotheses, and to conclude that Homer did and didn't write the books, which is a contradiction!

Just to look briefly at the other answer choices: answer choice (A) wouldn't allow us to accept the hypothesis, since it demands that we "suspend judgment" as to its truth. We don't have "nontraditional evidence" that Homer was the author, so answer choice (D) is out. Finally, we only have two hypotheses, not three or more, so the principle of answer choice (E) doesn't apply.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Best,
Andrew Ash
FIDELIO
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Thanks.

So can I apply this same reasoning to all types of future LR problems including Strengthen?

In the case of two hypothesis given if we are told not to accept one should we automatically assume that we should accept the other? Is this how logic works?

I guess my assumption on this question would be that one can be on the fence (not take a side) about the issue and does not have to accept Homer as creator nor do they have to accept that he had nothing to do with it. Perhaps he contributed in some way (ie. only wrote certain chapters, drew the pictures, translated, ect.).
Dave Killoran
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Hi Fidelio,

You ask an interesting question about how to logically operate in the LSAT world vs the real world. In the real world, I agree totally with you—we don't really know what happened, and it would be easy not to take a side here, and we could posit alternative theories. So, if we were in a real-world class discussing the Iliad/Odyssey authorship issue with this evidence, we wouldn't have to draw the conclusion used in the argument (or answer choice).

But, when we step into the LSAT world, the rules change. Now we have to follow the conventions of the question type and what the author said. Here, the author makes a conclusion that I think both of us disagree somewhat with, or at least question! However, we have to cast that aside because the question stem asks us to identify a principle that could underlie the reasoning used to draw that conclusion. So, we need an answer that—when added to the original premises—would allow us to make that same conclusion we see in the argument.

If you add (B) to the premises, it allows you to draw that same conclusion, so (B) is the right answer. Does that then mean there's a general LSAT principle that if you don't accept one hypothesis that you automatically accept the other? No, it doesn't mean that; it just worked here because of how the argument is set up and what is required by the question stem. They could use that same idea (or something similar) in another question if it was set up correctly, but they don't have to.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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FIDELIO
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Thank You! :-D