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 chloe.nowak
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#30588
In Question 2, is "Although this has meant longer "hold" times for those who call our service lines" considered a counter-premise? And does a conclusion typically follow after a counter-premise if a comma separates them as it does in this example with "our customers clearly don't mind being patient"?
 Jon Denning
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#30648
Hi Chloe,

Thanks for the question and welcome to the Forum!

I should start by saying that on some level notions of counter-premise, or additional but nonessential information, or some of the other slightly obscure linguistic tools authors use is an exercise in soft semantics, where the edges of these categorizations can get a little blurry. So I'm always careful to note that it's useful to be able to deconstruct arguments into their component parts, and understand the structures involved, but not everything will fit into a tidy class every single time...such is the slightly squirmy nature of English, I'm afraid. Fortunately the test makers won't test you on the gradients, but will instead stick to clearly-classifiable elements when required: if you ever MUST identify something as a counter-premise (or regular premise, or conclusion, etc) it'll be in a situation where the usage is undeniable.

However, and with that in mind, yes, I would classify the "Although..." phrase here as a counter-premise (of sorts). I say "of sorts" because a counter-premise in my view usually tends to be evidence that potentially (or even very directly) contradicts a claim the author is making, where the argument then depends on its being refuted. So a statement like "while our competitors claimed a reduction in customer service staff would lead to an increase in dissatisfaction...," and then the author stating that that claim is in fact wrong, would in my eyes be a more traditional counter-premise in an argument like this.

This clause achieves that aim somewhat, as the author is acknowledging a negative/possibly harmful effect of the staff reduction but then goes on to dismiss its harms based on the decreased complaint volume.

So I think at the very least it's fair to call this "information the author dismisses" or "a potential downside the author attempts to mitigate," or similar. And that's in the immediate neighborhood of a counter-premise.

To your second question about following a counter-premise with a conclusion, again I want to be careful about speaking in absolutes—like, "that always happens!"—but generally yeah if you see an author outline a claim that might hurt his/her argument (an idea that needs to be reconciled or dismissed) then what usually follows is an attempt to make a counter-claim, very often the conclusion.

This is most often seen in stimuli that begin with the old, "Some people believe..." type phrasing, where the belief is given and then the author immediately argues in favor of the exact opposite. We might call that a counter-premise, or a counter-claim, or simply an idea the author attempts to refute (or believes to be mistaken)...regardless it's common and mostly consistent; 9 out of 10 you'll see the author fight it, but every so often the author goes on to argue for it, or introduces an alternative view but doesn't pick a side.

So it's good to be able to recognize these things, and useful to anticipate the test's tendencies, but a tad dangerous to approach any of this in terms of absolutes or "always" expectations.

Interestingly enough, Dave Killoran had a somewhat similar discussion with another student on our Forum several years ago based on an example in an old edition of the Logical Reasoning Bible: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=1985. I don't know how relevant you'll find that to your own questions, but I thought it was at least telling that others have wondered the same thing :)

I hope that helps! Keep up the hard work!
 Salli
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#33613
Can you assist in making sense of this logical reasoning, please?

"Given the current state of the economy..." [Full text of question removed due to copyright.]

(P1) Given the current... (C1) we recently...

(CP) Although this has meant.... (C2) our customers...

In fact, since (immediate proximity) (P2) we implemented... (C3) the number....

To me, I would think that conclusion three “the number of recorded customer complaints has actually decreased” would be the likely conclusion, but the text answer key give that first conclusion in the first sentence as the main conclusion. This doesn’t make sense to me. When given multiple conclusions, which is the correct one? Is there a way to identify? Am I missing something or is each situation unique?
 Emily Haney-Caron
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#33639
Hi Salli,

Great question. Each situation is unique. In each case, you'll need to really think about the reasoning of the stimulus, and the ultimate goal/purpose of the argument, rather than taking s formulaic approach (e.g., by assuming the last conclusion will be the main conclusion). Instead, you're looking to understand the line of reasoning and the ultimate position being brought forward. This is definitely something that will get easier with time!
 Jon Denning
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#33640
Hey Salli - thanks for the post, and welcome to the Forum!

I'm going to jump in here too if that's alright, since I've been working this week on some text in our course materials that I think you'll find helpful :)

First off, Emily is right: you need to be careful assuming too much about arguments—the conclusion is always at the beginning or end, or the conclusion will always be made clear with certain words ("thus," "therefore," etc.)—and the best solution is to truly recognize what an author is attempting to prove/accomplish, versus what information (premises) the author is using to support that claim.

For the drill in question, the author is using the decrease in customer complaints about longer hold times to try to prove that customers "clearly" don't mind being patient. The logic in that relationship helps you put the pieces in the right order: a fact about customer behavior (fewer complaints) is provided to draw an inference about that behavior's cause (customers don't mind waiting).

Put another way, consider which of those pieces you would be likely to argue against if someone said this to you. Would you try to say that the number of customer complaints didn't actually decrease? No, since that's a fact the author provides. What you'd debate would be the reason for the decrease: was it patience, or some other cause (maybe having fewer staff to take the complaint calls is why there's an apparent decrease in the volume...customers aren't okay with the wait, they just don't have anyone to complain to!).

Logic is always weapon #1 when it comes to deconstructing arguments on the LSAT (and, hopefully, in life).

But let me throw in a "formula" of sorts that you can apply and that should save you on the rare occasion you still feel stumped.

As you've no doubt recognized, most of the arguments you'll encounter on the LSAT have indicator words to help you recognize the conclusion. In those cases it's generally pretty straightforward figuring out what the author is driving at (although you can't always rely on words alone; some arguments are constructed to trick you by putting conclusion indicators on intermediate/subsidiary conclusions rather than the main idea, so be careful!).

Unfortunately, however, not every conclusion is so clearly marked. Consider a new example:

..... The best way of eliminating traffic congestion will not be easily found. There are so many competing
..... possibilities that it will take millions of dollars to study every option, and implementation of most
..... options carries an exorbitant price tag.

An argument like the one above can be difficult to analyze because no indicator words are present. Fortunately, there is a fairly simple trick that can be used in this situation (and any other situation where you are uncertain of the conclusion): the Conclusion Identification Method.

Take the statements under consideration for the conclusion and place them in an arrangement that forces one to be the conclusion and the other(s) to be the premise(s). Use premise and conclusion indicators to achieve this end.

Once the pieces are arranged, determine if the arrangement makes logical sense. If so, you have made the correct identification. If not, reverse the arrangement and examine the relationship again. Continue until you find an arrangement that is logical, and that will give you the conclusion.

Let’s apply this method to the argument above. For our first arrangement we will make the first sentence the premise and the second sentence the conclusion, and add indicators (in italics):

..... Because the best way of eliminating traffic congestion will not be easily found, we can conclude
..... that there are so many competing possibilities that it will take millions of dollars to study every option,
..... and implementation of most options carries an exorbitant price tag.

Does that sound right? No. Let’s try again, this time making the first sentence the conclusion and the second sentence the premise:

..... Because there are so many competing possibilities that it will take millions of dollars to study
..... every option, and implementation of most options carries an exorbitant price tag, we can conclude
..... that the best way of eliminating traffic congestion will not be easily found.

Clearly, the second arrangement is superior, as it makes logical sense! Generally when you have the conclusion and premise backward the arrangement will be confusing and feel odd. The correct arrangement always sounds more logical.


So by using this approach when you're trying to determine the conclusion from among competing possibilities you'll give yourself a proven way to reliably identify just what the author's main point really is :)

Practice with that technique when logic leaves you needing further confirmation and you'll find come test day that you can take arguments apart with ease.

I hope that helps!
 Salli
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#33645
Got it! Hopefully, I will be able to apply it. Thank you Jon and Emily. :-D
 hl205136
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#40753
I am having a difficult time with this particular drill. Each time I read this passage the conclusion always seems to be that " it was necessary to reduce the number of customer service reps. The premise is the state of the economy and everything else below it as extraneous information.

Multiple passes later I saw that the purpose of the passage, it seems to me like the spokesperson is making excuses. With that in mind, I can see that the real conclusion is that the customers don't mind the changes.

Q1. Where was the disconnect the first time around? I don't understand why I couldn't see the conclusion.
Q2. From reading the comments above, it seems like I should be identifying these different pieces (conclusion, premise, etc.) with the indicators rather than context. Is this the correct strategy? If so why and If not what is your recommendation.
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 Dave Killoran
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#40777
Hi H,

Thanks for the questions! First off, when you get a chance read the comments above about this drill item again: they are comprehensive and helpful in seeing the bigger picture with questions like this! (I know you read them once, but there's some gold up above that is worth reading twice). Second, part of the process of learning the LSAT is struggling with questions like this. The more you review what's happening and why, the better you will be next time out. So, don't look at problems as a bad thing, but instead as a learning tool. It's hard for a reason, and examples like this one show why that is the case. Let's look at the various pieces of your post:

hl205136 wrote:Multiple passes later I saw that the purpose of the passage, it seems to me like the spokesperson is making excuses. With that in mind, I can see that the real conclusion is that the customers don't mind the changes.
Yeah, the spokesperson is clearly providing explanations (which can easily be called excuses) so you are the right track here.

hl205136 wrote:Q1. Where was the disconnect the first time around? I don't understand why I couldn't see the conclusion.
There are a few things happening here, but the two biggest are thinking that the first sentence was a straight conclusion and then missing the "clearly" in the conclusion. Those two in combination sent you in the wrong direction. With that first sentence, what you have is a factual description that does contain a reason and a consequence: "Given the current state of the economy, we recently found it necessary to reduce the number of customer service representatives we employ." That's a clear "Because of this, we did this" type of form, so you have the right idea in looking at the second half of the sentence as a conclusion. BUT, is that what the author is driving at as the whole point? No, as we can see by placing this statement and the real conclusion in context with each other:
  • Premise: "we recently found it necessary to reduce the number of customer service representatives we employ."

    Premise: "[but]...the number of recorded customer complaints has actually decreased."

    Conclusion: "our customers clearly don’t mind being patient."
versus:
  • Premise: "our customers clearly don’t mind being patient."

    Premise: "[but]...the number of recorded customer complaints has actually decreased."

    Conclusion: "we recently found it necessary to reduce the number of customer service representatives we employ."
Which one makes more sense? the first one, which is one way you can tell which is the main conclusion here.

hl205136 wrote:Q2. From reading the comments above, it seems like I should be identifying these different pieces (conclusion, premise, etc.) with the indicators rather than context. Is this the correct strategy? If so why and If not what is your recommendation.
It's both actually. In the beginning, use the indicators to help figure things out, but be aware that certain indicators can be used in different ways, which is where context comes in. Indicators are a fast and dirty way to get started, then you add in other tools like context to help put it all together very quickly.

Please let me know if this helps. Thanks!
 hl205136
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#40782
Thank you. Yes, this was very helpful. It seems like I need to be more aware of indicators as well as double checking my thought process.

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