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#18 - A physician has a duty to see to the health and best

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Complete Question Explanation

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

The author claims that when a physician's duty to act in the best interests of the patient conflicts with the patient's right to be informed about any negative findings concerning her health, the patient's right should prevail since it is a basic right. Since it is unclear why basic rights take precedence over physician's duties, you need to look for an answer choice that establishes that fact. The last sentence of the stimulus is irrelevant and meant to slow you down, not help you understand the question.

Answer choice (A): Having the right to accept or reject a procedure is immaterial to the task of establishing the precedence of basic rights over duties.

Answer choice (B): The correctness of some actions does not mean they are "basic rights." This answer choice conflates two meanings of the word "right"; one is an adjective, the other a noun. Furthermore, for the conclusion to be proven as true, all actions that enact basic rights must be "right," i.e. must take precedence over duties, not just some actions. At best, this would be an assumption for the argument, not a way to establish it as true.

Answer choice (C): The rights of objects are immaterial to this conclusion.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. If basic rights are never meant to be violated and they sometimes conflict with someone's duties, the rights should prevail. When added to the premises of the argument, this answer choice proves the conclusion and is therefore correct.

Answer choice (E): This is perhaps the strongest decoy answer in this question. However, the fact that the basic right to information is stronger than most other rights does not establish that it is stronger than most other duties. And even if it were, "most" is not good enough; for the conclusion to be proven as true, the patient's basic right to information must be stronger than all duties that might arise in the context of a the doctor-patient relationship.
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Is the conclusion in this stimulus "When this duty conflicts with this right, the right should prevail." And is its direct premise "since it is a basic right." This is how I approached the problem.

Or am I wrong and is that sentence all one conclusion?

Thank you!
Lucas Moreau
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Hello, SMR,

That's one way to do it! :) Another way is to think of it as two premises and a conclusion:

P1: If a right is a basic right,
P2: And a duty conflicts with that right,
C: Then the right should prevail over the duty.

Answer choice D adds in the assumption that a basic right should never be violated, which sets up why a right should prevail over a duty. It justifies the conclusion! :-D

Hope that helps,
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Thanks for clarifying that!
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Hi! I understand why D is correct. I don't understand why C is wrong.

My question is in regards to the word "object." We were taught that when you see a rogue element in the conclusion, find an answer that links it to the premise. Part of the conclusion is "Anything else carries the risk of treating the patient as a mere object, not as a person" is it not? If so, shouldn't we be looking for an answer that links "object" to the rest of the stimulus? That is why I went with C.
Jonathan Evans
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Hi, Tanushree,

Good question! Let's address it in a couple steps.

First, we are dealing with a Justify question here, and you are correct that often an excellent way to approach these questions is to look for a missing link or "rogue element" to connect between the conclusion and the premises. However, it is equally important to assess and analyze the structure of the argument to ascertain exactly which particular missing link needs to be addressed and in which direction such a link needs to be made.

In other words, we need to remain aware of the structure and thrust of the argument to ensure that (in a Justify situation) we will be choosing an answer choice with a statement sufficient to ensure that the conclusion is valid.

Let's break down this stimulus:

  1. Physician has a duty to patient.
  2. Patient has right to health information.
  3. Conclusion:If duty conflicts with right to health information :arrow: Right to health information prevails
  4. Right to health information :arrow: Basic right
  5. Right to health information prevails :arrow: Risk of person treated like object

Consider the end point of the conclusion: "Right to health information prevails"

Our job in a Justify question is to ensure that an argument is valid. The author concludes that given a certain set of circumstances a certain other condition is necessarily true. In this case, the author concludes that in the event that this duty conflicts with this right, then the right must prevail.

We must find a statement in the answer choices that we can combine with the premises to guarantee the truth of this necessary condition.

Find something that will show that whenever the duty conflicts with the right, it has to be true that the right wins.

You are absolutely correct that one way to accomplish this task would be through this idea about an "object." To wit, consider that statement:

  • Right to health information prevails :arrow: Risk of person treated like object
  • Contrapositive: Risk of person treated like object :arrow: Right to health information prevails

Note that the necessary condition in the contrapositive is identical to the necessary condition expressed in the author's conclusion: "Right to health information prevails"

What would we need to do to connect the existing premises to this "object" idea to arrive at the conclusion that "Right to health information prevails"?

We would need something like this:

    It is never acceptable to risk treating a person like an object.

With this information, we could conclude that:

    If duty conflicts with right to health information :arrow: Right to health information prevails

Because we must choose the only path in which there is no risk that people are treated like objects. Then from the premises, we also know:

    Risk of person treated like object :arrow: Right to health information prevails

Thus, right to health information would necessarily prevail.

However, this is not the only way to arrive at a valid conclusion. There is also another "rogue element" or possible link to be made. Look at the other premises. What else do we know about this right to health information? We know that it is a "basic right." What would be another way to arrive at the necessary condition that the "right to health information prevails"? Consider the following:

    Basic rights should always prevail.

If we knew this were the case, then we could show that:

  • Given that there is a conflict between this right and this duty,
  • AND given that this right is a basic right,
  • AND given that basic rights should always prevail,
  • It is necessarily true that this right should prevail.
This second approach is the way that this Justify problem accomplishes its goal.

What's the overarching lesson here?

  1. There are helpful ways to approach these problems (like looking for a "rogue element"), but these approaches work best when combined with your analysis of the underlying mechanics in an argument. This way you get the best of both worlds: combine your cogent understanding with a useful tool confidently and quickly to arrive at the correct answer.
  2. Is it necessary that you break any given question down in similar detail? Absolutely not! The analysis above serves (I hope) to illustrate these concepts, but in your work you should just keep your eye on the prize and focus on finding something that will be adequate to ensure the validity of the conclusion.

Please follow up with further questions. Thanks!
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Hi Jonathan,

I had the same issue as tanushreebansal, but was looking for a more acute answer respective to identifying the actual conclusion the author is making. In reading the stimulus, I immediately thought to identify "Anything else carries the risk of treating the patient as a mere object, not a person" as the conclusion of the argument. Given that this is a justify question, we are to add information to the stimulus which would ensure the conclusion is properly drawn. However, without explicitly stating which conclusion must be justified, we are left to only guess what we are to justify from the outset. To state that when a duty conflicts with a right, the right prevails is just as if it were stated as fact and should be considered a premise.

In reading this, my understanding is to take this fact as a given premise and I am tasked with filling some gap to arrive at the conclusion. In this case, my understanding was that

A) Basic rights of people prevail over duties (given as fact). and
Not A ---> B) Therefore, the denial of basic rights is to treat one as an object.

Answer choice C states "Because only people have rights, objects do not"

So, altogether:

Basic rights prevail over duties,
Only people have rights, objects don't
So basic rights not prevailing over duties is to treat one like an object (with no rights)

Could you please share how to most effectively distinguish a conclusion that is somewhat hidden as this one is from a premise, which is stated as fact? I wouldn't have prephrased answer choice D without understanding that it was the conclusion and in reading the answer choice, D at the time, it seemed to unnecessarily validate what was thought to be given information, especially since the answer choice can be used as stand alone support without making additional connections.
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Hi nlittle,

I am going to jump in for Jonathan here. First, I think that you have misidentified the conclusion in this stimulus. That last sentence, is really a throwaway here meant to slow you down. The actual conclusion here is: if duty conflicts with right to health information :arrow: Right to health information prevails. Focusing on that conclusion, may help clarify the answer choices here for you. In other words, Jonathan's analysis of that last sentence was merely done to show how a conditional set up gets you back to the same conclusion that "Right to health information prevails." So this difficult stimulus really gives us a problem because sometimes we misidentify the conclusion. As far as guidance goes for finding that conclusion, I want to draw your attention back to the las sentence and discuss how it is not the conclusion. The language is really what whe have to focus on here. Remember too, that it's unusual for a conclusion to be found in the last sentence of a stimulus even though that's the place that most people normally put it when they write or talk. So the fact that it's coming right at the end of the paragraph immediately makes it suspect.

The LSAT though, takes great pleasure in hiding the ball on us when we search for a conclusion. But go back to the start of the the last sentence. It begins "Anything else" which tells us that whatever comes after it is going to probably be an additional premise. "Anything else" is really an additional premise indicator like "moreover" of "additionally." so that is a big indicator that our conclusion is not in that sentence and we need to go find it elsewhere.

Thanks for the great question and I hope this helps!