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#4 - Whittaker: There can be no such thing as the number of

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Complete Question Explanation

Method of Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (A)

Whittaker tries to argue that there cannot be a category of people that dropped out of medical school before their second year because if they dropped out they never experience a second year. In response, Hudson follows this same logic to show that there is no category of people who will not become rich because if you die before becoming rich, you never experience it.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. Hudson uses the analogy of becoming rich to show that if he uses the same logic as Whittaker, it leads to a preposterous conclusion.

Answer choice (B):Hudson does not cite anything specific that directly counters Whittaker’s claim about second year medical students. Instead he attacks it through analogy.

Answer choice (C): Whittaker does not use necessary/sufficient reasoning in his statement, therefore Hudson cannot point out such a mistake.

Answer choice (D): Whittaker makes a simple statement without ever acting as if it were false.

Answer choice (E): Hudson never claims that Whittaker’s use of medical school students is extreme and unrepresentative.
srcline@noctrl.edu
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Hello

Does the LSAT really get this specific? To me this question seems to be splitting hairs between an analogy and an example.
Hudson's argument: By your reasoning I cannot help but become rich, because there is similarly no such thing thing as my dying before my first million dollars is in the bank.

My reasoning for why I picked B was that Hudson is using a specific example to counter Whitaker's claim. I do not see an analogy, where is Hudson in his reply comparing two things and then supporting Whitaker conclusion. He is undermining his conclusion, I thought. Would someone please explain this distinction between example and analogy and can I expect this type of questions on the LSAT in the future. Also would someone please explain the difference between A and B.

Thankyou
Sarah
Robert Carroll
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Sarah,

Hudson does not use an example to counter Whittaker's general claim. That general claim is that it is impossible to count a certain kind of medical student, because no one meets the criteria to be counted - if dropping out means no second year exists, then no one drops out before "their" second year (a non-existent thing). For Hudson to use an example here, Hudson would have to bring up a situation where someone did drop out before their second year, one Whittaker would accept as an example contradicting the general point.

Instead, Hudson argues that the logic supporting Whittaker's argument would mean that Hudson has to be rich. If Hudson is not rich, then, Hudson implicitly argues, he would have to die before making his first million dollars. But if he never makes a million dollars, then "his first million dollars" is as fictional an entity as a medical school dropout's "second year." Thus, Hudson implicitly claims, no one can die before making his first million dollars. This argument proceeds along similar lines to that of Whittaker, but reaches a conclusion that Hudson thinks Whittaker will recognize as untenable. Thus, if Whittaker rejects Hudson's argument, Whittaker should reject the analogous argument that he made.

This is not a situation where there is a specific example disproving a general point. Whittaker has a specific argument, and Hudson has a (supposedly) analogous, specific argument, and Hudson intends the absurdity of that argument to show that the analogous argument is also absurd.

It might help to think of an analogy as a different, but similar, situation, whereas an example is a specific situation that is contained within a general class already given.

This question is not outside the bounds of what you would see on the test. As a Method of Reasoning question, it must be answered solely based on the information in the stimulus, and answer choices that describe the stimulus incorrectly are wrong no matter what else those answers say. An answer "half right, half wrong" is completely wrong.

Robert Carroll
srcline@noctrl.edu
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Hello Robert

Thankyou for your reply. However, I still do not see the analogy in this question. Also Whittaker has a conditional in his statement and Hudson does not, wouldn't Hudson bring up a conditional as well if it was an analogy that would be comparing different things but with similar situations?

Thankyou
Sarah
Adam Tyson
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An analogy is a comparison between supposedly similar cases - here, Hudson compares a claim about being rich to a claim about not having a second year. It's not a great analogy, I think, and you are right that Whittaker uses clearly conditional language while Hudson does not, but since this is not a Parallel Reasoning question we don't really need to worry about the arguments matching up exactly with one another.

The key thing about an example is that it is very specific - a particular person, let's say, whose situation is contrary to what Whittaker says must be true. Examples are distinct, specific cases - "My cousin Margaret did that thing that you say cannot be done." Analogies are broader, more general comparisons.

To pick answer B here you would have to find in the stimulus a specific (emphasis added) example, and there simply isn't one.

In real life, we might casually call Hudson's argument an example, but on the LSAT we have to be much pickier about how we use that word. If it's about a supposedly similar (some might say parallel) situation, but not about a particular instance, then it is an analogy rather than an example. Also, an example will typically be directly related to the claim being argued about - here, as Robert pointed out, an example would have to be about a medical student.

I hope that helps clear things up some.
Adam M. Tyson
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