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#22 - Economist: Some people argue that when large countries

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Complete Question Explanation

Justify the Conclusion. The correct answer choice is (C)

Whenever the stimulus begins by outlining someone else's argument, you can be sure that the author's conclusion will be the exact opposite of theirs. In this particular case, the author counters the argument that the division of large countries leads to more national tariffs and increased barriers to free trade by pointing out that small countries do not see themselves as economically self-sufficient. "So what?" you may ask. Figuring out the logic behind the author's premise will help you tremendously in connecting that premise to the her conclusion.

If small countries do not see themselves as economically self-sufficient, then we can reasonably expect them to avoid imposing any tariffs that impede imports and free trade. Because the author fails to explain how a country's perceived lack of self-sufficiency is relevant to that country's trade policies, the correct answer choice will doubtless focus on it.

Observant test-takers will also notice the conditional reasoning that underlies this argument:

SC = Small Countries

SS = Self-sufficient

NT = National Tariffs

    Premise: ..... SC .......... SS

    Conclusion: ..... SC .......... NT

To arrive at the conclusion, you need to look for an answer choice that establishes that:

    SSNT (or the contrapositive NT → SS)

In other words, the correct answer must establish that every country that imposes national tariffs considers itself a self-sufficient country. Answer choice (C) is therefore correct.

Answer choice (A): Since the author does not think that the split would harm the world economy, this answer choice is irrelevant and incorrect. Furthermore, the rights of countries are entirely inconsequential to an argument focusing on economic policy. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (B): The author does not argue that the division of large countries would strengthen the world economy; her argument is simply that barriers to free trade will not increase as a result of such division. Even if free trade were beneficial to the world economy in general, this answer choice would only strengthen the author's conclusion, not prove it. Remember: the correct answer to a Justify question must prove the conclusion, not merely support it. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice.
If every country that imposes barriers to free trade perceives itself as self-sufficient, then a country that does not see itself as self-sufficient will not erect such barriers. By connecting a nation's perceived self-sufficiency to the probability that it will impose barriers to free trade, this answer choice proves the conclusion. See discussion above.

Answer choice (D): The negative impact of tariffs on the world economy is consistent with the author's conclusion but does not strengthen it, let alone prove it. The author does not think that increasing the number of small countries will lead to increased barriers to free trade. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (E): If small countries are less self-sufficient than large ones, this would only establish that the small countries are correct in their self-perception. While this may strengthen the author's premise, it provides no definitive support for her conclusion. This answer choice is incorrect.
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Realistically, when working through a problem similar to this on actual test day, do you recommend diagramming this out? I know the general rule of thumb is that "if you need to, do it." But is a question like this one that the correct answer can be relatively easy to see without diagramming ??
Nikki Siclunov
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I think you've answered your own question :) Only diagram when you need to. People differ in the extent to which they diagram conditional relationships. Overdiagramming can really slow you down, but underdiagramming can have the same effect, and it can also lower your accuracy. You need to find the right balance for yourself! Personally, I almost always diagram stimuli with 3+ conditional relationships, especially if I notice that they might form a chain. Additionally, I am a lot more likely to diagram stimuli followed by Justify stems, because knowing which elements to connect is often not enough. You need to prephrase the exact nature of that connection in order to avoid getting trapped in a MR/MN.

I'll also diagram MBT and Parallel Reasoning questions where 3 or more conditional relationships are present.

For more tips on when to diagram, check out these blog posts:

LSAT Conditional Reasoning: When To Diagram

Conditional Reasoning on the LSAT: Do You See It Everywhere?

Nikki Siclunov
PowerScore Test Preparation