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## Principle Conditional Reasoning Statement

dc7powerscore
• Posts: 6
• Joined: Nov 07, 2013
#12346
First of all, THANKS for the HELP my PowerScore Friend.

My question comes from:

Chapter 19: Principle Questions

My question specifically relates to the Must Be True-Principle (Must-PR) question on page 491 that relates to a Conditional Reasoning Statement.

Trying to understand why answer choice (A) could not be correct since Ted was wholly truthful (sufficient condition) and Ted made the statement to investigators without the intention of deception and the statement was true (necessary conditions).

Therefore, Ted met the stimulus first sentence principle’s necessary and sufficient conditions.

But, based on the LR Bible’s explanation of why (A) is incorrect, it states that “Yet, this answer attempts to conclude that Ted’s statement was wholly truthful, which is the same as the sufficient condition. Therefore, the conclusion …….does not conform to the principle in the stimulus and this answer is incorrect.”

But on page 492 under “What you can conclude” it states, 1). “If the sufficient condition is met in one of the scenarios in the answer choice, then it can be concluded that the necessary condition has occurred.”

And in this case, the necessary condition is that Ted be “truthful and no intention of deception”. It appears that both of these necessary conditions were met based on the stimulus.

Also, are necessary conditions considered the conclusions in conditional statements?

Confused…… HELP……THANKS
Dave Killoran
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 5853
• Joined: Mar 25, 2011
#12379
Hi DC,

Thanks for the message. I'm glad we've been able to help you out so far! Let's take a look at your question and see if we can sort this out for you.

From the looks of it, you've gotten tripped up on what is a very tricky point. In answer choice (A), the argument tries to conclude that a sufficient condition has occurred. In the "What you can conclude" segment, the sentence you referred to reads, "If the sufficient condition has been met..." (italics added). That's a big difference there, because in (A), they don't state factually that the sufficient condition has been met, and then conclude the necessary occurred; instead in (A) they factually state that the necessary has occurred and then attempt to conclude that the sufficient has occurred. In other words, they have it backwards.

With the above in mind, let's go back to the stimulus as well as answer choice (A). The relevant principle in the stimulus appears as:

Wholly truthful Statement true + Made without intended deception

What the guidelines say on page 492 is that if you know that Ted's statement is wholly truthful, then you know that Statement true + Made without intended deception. But that's not how (A) works. What (A) does instead is that it tells you, "After all, Ted was not trying to deceive the investigator." In other words, you know that Ted's statement was "Made without intended deception." If you know that this necessary condition occurred, does that allow you to then conclude that the sufficient condition occurred (namely that his statement was wholly truthful)? No, you can't do that because it would be a Mistaken Reversal (note: for the sake of clarity, I'm going to ignore the fact that it appears that Ted's statement may not, in fact, be true; I don't think that particular point is what is causing you confusion here).

Let's step back a bit further and simplify this to see if we can make this conditional issue even clearer. Let's assume for a moment that you have a principle that reads A B. If someone makes a valid argument using that principle, they'll treat it as a premise, and then add a second premise to that principle in order to draw a conclusion. Here are some examples:

• Premise: A B

Premise: A

Conclusion: B

What happened? We took the principle, added in the fact that the sufficient condition had occurred, and that allowed us to draw the conclusion that the necessary condition must have occurred. This is what we call a restatement of the conditional principle.

Premise: A B

Premise: B

Conclusion: A

What happened? We took the principle, added in the fact that the necessary condition did not occur, and that allowed us to draw the conclusion that the sufficient condition did not occur. This is a contrapositive.
Ok, both of the above are pretty standard valid argument forms. Notice how we either use the occurrence of a sufficient condition as a premise, or the non-occurrence of a necessary condition as a premise, in order to draw conclusions. The point on pages 492-493 is that there's no argument form that allows you to use a conditional principle to conclude that the sufficient condition in that principle occurred. They could tell you as a second premise that it occurred, but you can't draw the conclusion that the sufficient condition occurred. That premise/conclusion issue may look like a small difference, but as you can see it's actually huge

As a result, that means this form doesn't work:

• Premise: A B

Premise: ??

Conclusion: A

There's no second premise here that you can add to A B to then conclude that A occurred. Yet, that's what answer choice (A) is attempting to do (and that's what Mistaken Reversals attempt to do), and from a conditional standpoint you can't draw that conclusion. You also can't draw the conclusion that a necessary condition does not occur (this is point 2 on page 493).
The reason this discussion is there is that in Principle questions that use conditional reasoning, this is a common thing they've done over the years in wrong answers. Once you've seen an answer like (A) few times and understood it, the next time you see it you can cast it aside quickly and efficiently, with no confusion.

Ok, on to your question about whether "necessary conditions considered the conclusions in conditional statements?" As you can tell from the discussion above, what is a premise and what is a conclusion is a crucial part of understanding what is going on. Not being perfectly clear on this relationship is likely the underlying issue in the problem you had with (A) (and it is why I focused on this portion of why (A) is wrong, and bypassed the "statement is true" portion). The short answer to whether necessary conditions are considered conclusions in conditional statements is that it changes depending on the argument form. Let's go back and look at the two examples I posted above to make this clear:

• Premise: A B

Premise: A

Conclusion: B

Here the necessary condition--by itself--ends up as the conclusion. So the answer in this case is yes.

Premise: A B

Premise: B

Conclusion: A

Here the negation of sufficient condition ends up as the conclusion. So the answer in this case is no.
As you can see just from these two cases, it depends on how the argument is organized and what other premises you are given. That's what the text on pages 492-493 is driving at, and so it is critical that you understand the meaning behind that discussion.

These concepts do come up earlier in the book, so let me also refer you back to pages 116-119 in the book for review. You may also find this recent article I posted helpful in understanding how the premise/conclusion aspect works in conditionality.

Please let me know if this helps. Thanks!
dc7powerscore
• Posts: 6
• Joined: Nov 07, 2013
#13892
Mr. Killoran,

First of all, THANK YOU for taking time out of your obviously very Busy schedule to respond to my lack of knowledge relating to the combination of “conditional and non-conditional statements” that are sometimes mixed together within the Logical Reasoning answer choices and/or the stimulus.

After my initial post on November 07, 2013, that fact that the “My Main MAN”, the SAGE of all LSAT knowledge”, responded to my uncertainty left me a bit astonished and in an AWE-like moment similar to when a kid meets their Superhero or favorite athlete…. David, you are truly the MAN.

I am so SORRY it took me this long to respond back to your “astute principle conditional statement analysis” to say THANK YOU SIR.

As you can imagine, as a CPA working for an Accounting/Audit Firm this time of the year, it doesn’t leave much time to have a real life yet along study for the LSAT. But I have finally and hopefully put my foot down and will now devote as much time to studying for the February LSAT as feasibly possible.

Mr. Killoran, your insightful instructions really helped me to begin to understand how to tackle Must-Be Principle questions that include conditional statements combined with ordinary premise statements. Additionally, your guidance further strengthened my continued quest to master conditional reasoning as a whole.

I believe I have a fairly good understanding of conditional reasoning concepts. However, what appears to be tripping me up is when a majority of the stimulus in Must-Be Principle questions includes conditional reasoning statements and the answer choices are a mixture of “conditional reasoning statements” and other “premise statements that are not conditional statements”.

I believe my overall take-away “thought process” going forward is that in Must Be-Principle questions that use conditional reasoning in the stimulus, the correct answer MUST also use conditional reasoning which will be triggered by the inclusion of conditional indicator words (such as the ones listed on Page 124 in the Logical Reasoning Bible). If so, these indicator words must be literally documented within the correct answer choice’s conditional statement(s) in order for that condition to factually occur vs. it not factually occurring.

On a side note: Per review of the Justify section of the Logical Reasoning Bible on Page 243, under the section:

Identifying Justify the Conclusion Question Stems

it list three features about the question stem that typically indicates a Justify the Conclusion question.

Feature 3 states that, “Any question stem that permits a lessened degree of justification, for example by using the phrase “most justifies” or “does the most to justify,” allows for an answer that does not justify the conclusion 100%.

However, in the Principle Questions chapter on Page 489 in the 6th example of how to ascertain thru a question stem which question type does the Principle relate, it states that:

“Which one of the following most accurately expresses the principle underlying the argumentation above?” (Justify-PR)

Based on the rules in the LR Bible within the Justify the Conclusion section outlined above, how is that this question stem that includes the word “most” turn out to be a Justify-Principle question?

Even before you respond, I would like to THANK YOU for taking time out of your busy schedule to help one of your many protégé's.

I now sit back and wait to learn from the King of all LSAT scholars, Mr. Killoran.
Dave Killoran
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 5853
• Joined: Mar 25, 2011
#13987
Hi DC,

Thanks for the reply, and thanks for all of the very nice compliments—I really appreciate them! Also, please call me Dave. Mr. Killoran is way too formal for me

Let's talk a bit about principles and conditionality, and see if we can't help clarify the issues in play.

First, principles by themselves are basically just conditional statements. So, when you see a Principle question, typically you know that conditionality is in play. How it is used, however, can change depending on the pieces given. You could get the conditional relationship in the stimulus, or maybe it is in the answers. It changes depending on what they are doing.

So, with that thought in mind, yes, typically with a Must-PR question you would see a conditional statement in the stimulus. But, where's where it differs slightly from what you mentioned: they don't have to use indicator words. There are a million ways to introduce conditionality, so don't get caught on the idea that an indicator must be present. Indicator words are tremendously awesome, and when they are there you have to take note of them, but keep in mind that those indicator words present the most commonly used indicator words. There are others out there, and they will use them. How do you combat that? By truly understanding what conditionality really means, because if you understand the core idea, you will be able to recognize conditional reasoning when it is present no matter what words they use

Second, let's look at the question you ask about page 489. As a starting point, the classification in the book on that page, as well as the comment on page 243 are both correct, and they are consistent with each other. As an exercise, I suggest you stop reading right now, and go look at that stem on page 489 again, and see if you can figure out why that is still a Justify question and why that "most" doesn't downgrade it to a Strengthen question.

Ok, assuming you took a shot at figuring that out, let's talk about what you are seeing. On page 243, the statement you referenced is the following, "Any question stem that permits a lessened degree of justification..." (italics added). Note that emphasis on what is lessened by the presence of the word "most": it is the force of the justification. If you reduce that justification level to something below 100%, you no longer have a Justify question and instead you have a Strengthen question.

Now let's look at that stem again, with the prior paragraph in mind. The stem states, "Which one of the following most accurately expresses the principle underlying the argumentation above?" (again, italics added for emphasis) The "most" here isn't modifying the justification idea itself (more on that in a second), but rather it is modifying the expression of the idea. In other words, the "most" is being used to convey the idea of which one best expresses the principle in play. The rest of the stem then mentions the principle, and it is stated flatly that you are looking for an answer that states that principle; not a principle that mostly justifies the argument, or strengthens it, but rather the answer that expresses the principle itself. There is no lessening of force, and so it's still a Justify question.

Please let me know if that clears that up. You've asked a really good question (and great eye on seeing that, by the way), and I really appreciate it! I'll actually add a clarifying comment about it in the next book update.

Please let me know if this helps, and thanks once again for the compliments!
dc7powerscore
• Posts: 6
• Joined: Nov 07, 2013
#14091
Hi David,

THANKS again for your Time and contribution to the PowerScore Family of students.

The service that you and PowerScore provide is invaluable and priceless to future students attempting to acquire professional levels of education.

Just to make sure I totally understand how this particular Must Be conditional viewpoint works (What you can conclude – page 492), let me ask this specific question:

If a conditional statement occurs in a Must-Be stimulus question as in the Must Be Practice question in our aforementioned example which on Page 491 in the Logical Reasoning Bible….

Then correct answer must be conditional in nature for it to factually occur vs. not factually occurring…….A premise statement alone would not trigger or cause a statement to factually occur, correct?

Thanks Dave,

dc
Dave Killoran
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 5853
• Joined: Mar 25, 2011
#14095
Hi DC,

Hmm, no, I wouldn't agree with that. What it seems like you are trying to do is to reduce this to a very simple formula, and the LSAT so often is more advanced than that.

While in many cases what you state would be the case (as I understand you, at least), consider this exception off the top of my head:

• Stimulus: conditional principle A B

Question Stem: Must Be True, and further states that B did not occur

Correct answer: A
What's the problem there? Well, the answer itself does not contain conditionality; it's just a flat statement (sure, it's a condition, but only when framed in the context of the rest of the problem). So it does not conform to the rule you state.

If you try to turn the LSAT into a purely rule-based environment, the test can always circumvent the so-called rules. So, I can't agree to that axiom as being unbreakable, but in most cases it would occur that way, if that helps

Thanks!
dc7powerscore
• Posts: 6
• Joined: Nov 07, 2013
#14130
Dave,

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!

That really helped to clarify another piece of “my indecisiveness” related to conditionality as a whole as I strive to be at least “in the same ballpark” as you one day. Currently, I’m not even “in the same Country” as you are when it comes to Logical Reasoning (LR) conditionality.

You are very correct my Friend, when it comes to conditional statements, I am attempting to turn that portion of the LSAT into a formula(s), not necessarily a simple formula, but indeed a formula.

With the test-taking time constraints of the LSAT, being able to simply convert the LR language (words) into formulas appears to be the fastest process in tackling LR conditional questions as opposed to giving the questions a lot of thought and analysis.

David, being a Master at Conditionality, what was the “breaking point” or the catalyst for you that enabled you to just read a conditional stimulus and/or the “answers choices with conditionality” and quickly convert the language (words) into conditional formulas and then quickly and flawlessly pick the correct answer?

Is it just simply Practice, Practice, Practice…?

Obviously, I own all the basic PowerScore books such as the Logical Reasoning Bible, Logical Reasoning Workbook, Logical Games Bible, Logical Games Workbook and Reading Comprehension Bible…. and about to purchase the Reading Comprehension Workbook in a few days.

These invaluable tomes have advanced my knowledge of Conditionality in Logical Games from A to Z…. I have become a lot faster with the LG Bible and LG Workbook.

However, with Logical Reasoning conditionality, I am somewhat stuck at Q….. I am seeking to get from Q to Z and propelled that knowledge onward to capture a 178 on the LSAT... If it’s GOD’s will.

Therefore, are there any “PowerScore LSAT Deconstructed” type publications and/or articles that I could buy or access that strictly focuses on Logical Reasoning Conditionality.

I will shut-up now and wait to hear from the LSAT Monarch himself.

Dave, THANKS again for all Your HELP buddy.

dc
Dave Killoran
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 5853
• Joined: Mar 25, 2011
#14132
Hi DC,

Thanks for the reply, and as always, I'm glad I can be of assistance

With conditional reasoning, the tendency to want to diagram everything is very strong, but it must be avoided. An analogy I like to use to help see how this works involves driving cars:

• The presence of conditionality in LSAT questions is like cars on the road—it is (and they are) everywhere. However, in LSAT questions, sometimes the conditionality is rather passive, and does not play a significant role in the question (more often than not, actually). The same is true with cars in a sense—most are rather benign and present no threat. The cars you need to pay attention to are the ones that present a danger to you (cars very close to you, erratic drivers, etc). When you first begin driving, everything looks dangerous, but over time you begin to be able to recognize which cars are real threats and which probably aren't. The same is true in working with conditionality in LSAT questions: over time you learn when it will play a role in solving the question and when it will not.
So, how do you learn what's important and what is not? Yes, it is indeed practice, but practice in connection with post-question analysis. You have to very carefully examine each question to see whether the conditionality really played a role in solving the problem. This is one reason we produce our LSAT Deconstructed series—to help students see what elements are important in each question. By studying more and more questions and their explanations, over time you will begin to see when the conditionality in a problem is central, and when it is not.

This means that you probably don't need a publication focused solely on SN. The portions of the LRB (and LRBW and LGB) that directly address conditionality (the SN chapter and the Formal Logic chapter, specifically) are more than enough. You just need to do more questions and coldly analyze each.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
dc7powerscore
• Posts: 6
• Joined: Nov 07, 2013
#14202
Dave, YOU ARE THE MAN!

Your words and comments is exactly what I was thinking and feeling but I could not totally come to grips with the process of implementing the concept of realizing that I don’t need to diagram every stimulus scenario that I come across simply because of the presence of conditionality in the stimulus.

It seems that as I read your comments, the “light bulb” started to become brighter and brighter on the concept of knowing when to take the time to diagram conditional statements in the LR section.

Using the analogy of comparing conditional statements to “driving cars” was brilliant and very enlightening. It went a long way in “clearing out” those additional “cobwebs” in the corners of my “mind” as I attack and hopefully, eventually conquer conditional language in Logical Reasoning questions.

So Dave, you are saying the necessary ability to mentally establish the essential conditional statement in a LR stimulus and quickly and instinctively construct the diagram in our minds and then subsequently, with confidence, select or prephrase the correct answer is probably the difference between an average LSAT score and a Great LSAT score given the limited time constraints on test day?

Please correct me if I am wrong Dave, but it appears to me that most (not all) correct answers to a LR conditional stimulus is going to be structured in the form of the contrapositive of that conditional statement in stimulus. I’m gathering that the test makers don’t want to make it too easy for us. Therefore, if we can envision the contrapositive of most LR conditional statements, we may be able to quickly locate the correct answer choice without ever jotted down any diagramming.

Dave, I loved your last comment about coldly analyze each”. That was very inspirational. It added a brand new ingredient in the way I now post-analyze each and every missed LSAT question.

Lastly, I will never do another LSAT practice test that is NOT a PowerScore Deconstructive Test…. It virtually makes no sense to do an LSAT test without being able to have the perspective of the PowerScore LSAT experts at your fingertips which will provide a comprehensive, question-by-question analysis of every question and answer choice on that particular LSAT test that you’ve just encountered.

Dave, THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR HELP!
Dave Killoran
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 5853
• Joined: Mar 25, 2011
#14223
Hi DC,

I'm glad to help as always, and I'm happy to hear it's helping you out Let's take a look at a few of your questions, and I'll also add in a few suggestions of some articles I think you might find interesting based on our conversation.

LR conditionality: I really wish that the contrapositive featured as prominently as this While it is true that there are a number of LR questions that rely heavily on the contrapositive, conditional statements can be used in so many different ways that the CP doesn't even figure in the majority of correct answers. For example, in Flaw and Parallel Flaw questions, you see a decent number of problems that trade on Mistaken Reversals and Negations.

Your point that "the test makers don’t want to make it too easy for us" is spot on, and that actually why they don't feature the contrapositive more. If they did, students would pick up on it and always be looking for it, leading to too many easy answers. So, the test makers use it, but it won't be the key most of the time.

Cold Analysis: I'm glad you liked this reference! I'm a big fan of test mentality, and one components of that is to be very clinical in how you break down what you see. It's an interesting piece of advice, because you have to strike a balance between reacting and personalizing each argument and coldly analyzing it. Might be worth a blog post discussing how to balance those two seemingly-conflicting approaches.

Given some of the things we've discussed, I have a few suggestions for you on other articles we've written that might help round out your testing arsenal:

Finally, thanks for the shoutout to the LSAT Deconstructeds! The December 2013 Decon will be coming out soon, and will first be posted over in our eStore at http://downloads.powerscore.com/, under Test Explanations.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks and have a great weekend!

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