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I'm not understanding why B is correct here - how can it be true that the legislator's colleague "fails to address the grounds," when it explicitly says in the stimulus "because it would deter investment"?

I thought the flaw here was that the legislator was attacking the colleague's current opinion based off of the fact that they held a different opinion at an earlier time. I've definitely seen this as the correct answer to a flaw question on prior exams. That said, I chose E because it seemed like it could explain why the colleague may have had a different opinion in the past, making it irrelevant to her current opinion. Any help would be appreciated.
 Jonathan Evans
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Hey Turtles,

Good questions!

While the legislator does identify the grounds on which the colleague claims the act should be rejected, the legislator does not "address" these grounds. Instead, the legislator shifts into a tangential discussion of the colleague's previous votes. This is a ceteris paribus "all else being equal" fallacy. The legislator assumes that the circumstances surrounding the colleague's previous votes must be the same as the current circumstances. This need not be the case.

The legislator then further erroneously infers that there must be another, "real" reason the colleague opposes the act.

The legislator then makes another erroneous inference from the erroneous inference, that because the supposed "real" reason has not been disclosed, it must be unconvincing.

But we're not done yet! The legislator's conclusion is even more fallacious. The conclusion has a pretty glaring error in the use of evidence. The legislator assumes that if there's not a good reason to vote against the act, people should vote to approve the act.

However, this conclusion and the preceding fallacious reasoning all stem from the original fallacy: the legislator never bothers to explain that even though this act "would deter investment," people should vote for it anyways.

Since the question asks for an answer describing how the argument is most vulnerable to criticism, we should look for the answer choice that describes this most important flaw. Answer choice (B) is a good match here.

While the information in (E) may be true, this consideration is of tertiary importance.

Remember on flaw questions to zero on in the flaws intrinsic to the argument first. Try to describe the primary problem with the argument and find a match for this description. Your good prephrase is key here.

I hope this helps! Please follow up with further questions.
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Jonathan Evans wrote:
While the legislator does identify the grounds on which the colleague claims the act should be rejected, the legislator does not "address" these grounds.
Hi Jonathan,

In your explanation above, I'm not fully understanding how/why you made a distinction between "identify" and "address". In this context, the two words are synonyms. "Address" could mean to "briefly touch on" or to "mention".

As we all know, LSAT writers frequently use synonyms as a way to cause confusion, change the look of a phrase, or because the sky is blue. In reading answer choice B), I specifically crossed it out because I took "address the grounds" to mean "call attention to", or "identify" the grounds, or the "reason", for rejecting the act. In the first sentence, the legislator does exactly this - "because it would deter investment".

It's not as though the legislator said "My colleague says we should reject this act," and left it at that. The legislator doesn't go into full detail, but that isn't to be expected in an LR stimulus.

As you also mentioned, there are PLENTY of flaws in the legislator's argument, but I cannot understand how B is one of them.

How do you recommend I look at this question differently to see what you are seeing?

Thank you!!
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Hi Shannon,

"Identify" and "address" are not exact synonyms. Think of the phrase "address your concerns" and then think of replacing "address" with "identify" so it becomes "identify your concerns." If I just identify your concerns, I would just be listing them out. But the idea of addressing concerns usually involves a more thorough acknowledgment and attempt to assuage them. It's the difference between saying "you are concerned that I have a low GPA" and "you are concerned that I have a low GPA, but as you can see from my transcript most of that is due to my freshman year and during my last 3 years of undergraduate study I have maintained a 3.5 or higher every semester."

When we're talking about addressing the grounds of someone else's argument, that does not mean that you are merely restating their argument. You have to be speaking to the basis of their argument in a more substantial way. If you are arguing against someone else's argument, it means that you are attacking their argument by showing that their premises (or grounds) do not necessarily equal their conclusion.

In the first sentence, the legislator isn't really making an argument, he is simply stating someone else's argument. That's where he identifies his colleague's grounds (or premise) for her argument. The legislator's argument actually starts in the 2nd sentence. That's when he begins giving his reasons for why he thinks his colleague's position is incorrect. But none of his reasons actually address the grounds of her argument (deterring investment). Instead, he starts discussing her motives and past behaviors. But her past behaviors and current motives do not actually have anything to do with whether or not we should reject the act. And he does not discuss whether the act would actually deter investment, whether deterring investment is truly a bad thing, or anything else that would actually address the grounds of his colleague's argument.

This is similar to a source argument (also called an ad hominem argument) in which a person attacks the person making the argument (usually based on their ulterior motives or hypocritical behaviors) rather than the argument itself. Another example would be "We should reject Senator Brown's anti-smoking bill because he himself is a smoker." Senator Brown being a smoker doesn't actually have anything to do with whether or not we should accept or reject an anti-smoking bill. It's a rhetorical technique that is very common in politics because it can be persuasive. Why would I want a smoker telling me that I can't smoke? But it is not a logically valid argument because the premises actually have nothing to do with the conclusion. The person making the argument has nothing to do with the content of the argument. So if you are trying to argue against someone else's argument, you have to actually address that argument and the grounds for it, rather than simply attacking the person making the argument.

As Jonathan says, there are other evidence flaws here as well. But the big one is definitely that in arguing against his colleague, the legislator does not actually address any of the grounds for her position.

Hope this helps!

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That does help, thank you Kelsey! I was searching for an "ad hominem" flaw answer choice, and when I didn't see it, I got thrown off. I will add "fails to address the grounds on which..." to the list of ways LSAT writers may phrase an answer choice that is attempting to state an ad hominem flaw. Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond!! :)
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Is this flaw kind of like using lack of evidence (by the colleague who didn't give any reason) to prove that a position (the colleague's) is false?
 Robert Carroll
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Yes, that flaw is present here. At best, if the legislator's argument "worked", it would show that the colleague has no basis to reject the act. That does absolutely nothing to show there's any reason to vote FOR the act, of course. So there is definitely a shift from a lack of evidence against something (premise) to a claim that we should be in favor of that same thing (conclusion).

Robert Carroll

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