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#4- Historian: The central claim of the "end-of-history"

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Complete Question Explanation

Must be True. The correct answer choice is (A)

The historian observes that the end-of-history theory cannot in the terminal sense of "end" be correct, since one cannot stand outside of history to know whether it has reached its final stage of development.

You are asked to make an inference rather than to critique the historian's comments. The main thing you should infer is that, while we might be able to disprove the current end-of-history theory by observing the advent of a new stage, we could not prove the theory correct simply because no further stage has been reached, because except at the extreme (which may be unpredictable) there is a future.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. The wording of this choice is questionable. However, it captures the gist of the argument and is far better than the other responses. Generally, the use of the word "whether" is assumed to have a "whether or not" meaning, but in this case you need to interpret the word very precisely, because it is in fact impossible (in plausible circumstances) to know whether the theory is true, even though it would be possible to know whether the theory is untrue. Remember, you were asked which choice is most reasonably inferred, which means that it is okay to make allowances for a bit of shoddy wording and nagging details such as the end of the universe or an apocalyptic encounter, as long as the other choices are much worse.

Answer choice (B): The argument was not that the advocates of the end-of-history theory were overly ideological. It is quite possible that ideology is not a serious motivation for adherents to the theory, who could believe in the theory simply because they believe further "development" implausible. In any case, you should not choose a highly questionable inference on a side-issue when a fairly direct inference following from the main line of reasoning is available. This choice is wrong.

Answer choice (C): Since the historian stated that it is impossible to know whether the end-of-history theory is true, you should not select a response which involves a condition sufficient to know whether the theory is true. This response is contrary to the stimulus, and is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): You may have leaned toward this response; however, you need to remember to draw the distinction between awareness and reality. The historian argued that we could not know that the theory is true, but this choice states that the theory cannot be true. This incorrect response asks you to commit a standard LSAT reasoning error-- to infer that a lack of proof for a proposition is in fact proof against it.

Answer choice (E): The historian did not assert that ideological developments are the essential elements of history; the people he criticizes did. This incorrect choice does not follow because it cannot be inferred from the historian's views, which involve merely the observation that history has a future.
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So I was in between answer choice A And D. The correct answer choice was A. I am having hard time seeing how A and D are different.

A says: We can never know whether the end of history theory is true

D. It is impossible for the end of history theory to be true.

If you can never know something , doesn't that mean that it is impossible to for something to be true, because you can never know it?

I chose D the historian sates that: the central claim of the end of history theory is that history has reached it final stage of development.

And then the conclusion states that this cant be correct b/c its impossible to stand outside all of history to judge whether history is really at an end. Since this is MBT ? I thought A was not supported by the facts in the stimulus.

Adam Tyson
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I think you may have answered your own question here by the way you bold-faced the key difference in the two answers. One says we cannot know, the other says it cannot be. That's a huge difference! Just because we can't know doesn't mean it cannot be true - it just means that knowing it is beyond our ability. The stimulus proves that we can't know, because we can't stand outside and judge. That does nothing to support the idea that it can't be true.

Try an analogy - what if I said you cannot possibly know what it feels like to be totally unaware of everything, because knowing that would require at least some awareness. Does that mean it is impossible to be completely unaware? Nope - just that if you were in that state, you could not know that you were in that state or what it felt like to be in that state.

I hope that helps!
Adam M. Tyson
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Hello Adam

Okay I see this now, I get your analogy. Thank you for your explanations.