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#35624
Complete Question Explanation

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

This question deals with the issue of liability for extensive damage to the Mendel’s farm. As a result of the newspaper column in which Ms. Sandstrom described a “strange natural phenomenon,” the farm had many trespassers, which the Mendels claim Sandstrom could have reasonably expected as a result of her column. The author concludes that if the Mendels are right, and the damage could have been reasonably expected, Ms. Sandstrom should pay for the damage.

The stimulus is followed by a Justify the Conclusion question, so the correct answer choice will be the one that allows the author to reasonably draw the conclusion in this scenario: If the damage could have been reasonably expected, Ms. Sandstrom should pay for this damage.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice; it provides a conditional rule that confirms the author’s conclusion that Ms. Sandstrom should pay for the damage to the Mendel farm. This choice provides a basic conditional rule: If a person’s actions cause others to cause damage, and one could have reasonably expected the damage to result, then one should pay for that damage. This rule can be diagrammed as follows:
  • Action leads others to cause damage
    ..... ..... ..... + ..... ..... ..... ..... :arrow: ..... liability
    damage reasonably expected
Since this choice dictates that Ms. Sandstrom pay for the damage, it justifies the author’s conclusion and is confirmed as the right answer choice.

Answer choice (B): This choice has it backwards, claiming that there is liability only if there was reasonable expectation of damage:
  • liability for damage ..... :arrow: ..... reasonable expectation of damage
Since this conditional rule would not dictate that Ms. Sandstrom necessarily pay for the damage, it does not justify the author’s conclusion and cannot be the right answer to this Justify question.

Answer choice (C): The author doesn’t even mention whether or not the trespassers would be willing to pay for the damage to the Mendel’s farm, so this choice is completely irrelevant to the question of liability and can be safely ruled out of contention for this Justify the Conclusion question.

Answer choice (D): The conclusion of the argument is that if Ms. Sandstrom had such a reasonable expectation, then she should pay for the damage. This choice might be enticing, because it provides that she did have such knowledge, but it doesn’t validate the conclusion that such knowledge means she should pay. Since the author’s conclusion deals with whether or not liability results in such a situation, this choice can be ruled out of contention.

Answer choice (E): The stimulus already provided that the Mendels believe Ms. Sandstrom could have reasonably expected the damage that resulted from the article’s publication. This choice neither provides new information nor justifies the author’s conclusion, so it cannot be the correct answer choice.
 JennuineInc
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#30237
I got this correct but I was wondering in regards to D, doesn't KNOWING include REASONABLY EXPECT?

If she KNEW :arrow: (Premise doesn't tell us what happens if she knows)

But what if you think that by KNOWING it means that she REASONABLY EXPECTED her column could lead people to damage the farm?
 Emily Haney-Caron
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#30249
Hi JennuineInc,

Great question. I think where you're getting tripped up here is forgetting to go back to look at the conclusion. The conclusion here is not that she should pay; rather, the conclusion tells us she should pay if she could have reasonably expected. What we're looking for, then, is some sort of rule that says that a person in her situation who could have reasonably expected that damage would result should pay. That would get us to the conclusion that she should pay if she could have reasonably expected. A does just that, providing the rule that gets us from the premise to the conclusion.

D, on the other hand, is actually irrelevant. So what if Ms. Sandstrom knew damage could result? That doesn't help explain why she should have to pay if she knew; it just tells us that she did know.

Make sense?
 JennuineInc
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#30259
Hi Emily,

YES Thank you! I sometimes forget that in conclusions the entire conditional statement is the conclusion.

Thus, "If she could have reasonably expected, then she should pay"
 bli2016
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#34257
Hello- just a question out of curiosity. If this had been an assumption question (something along the lines of: the argument's conclusion requires which one of the following to be assumed?), would E be correct?
 Ricky_Hutchens
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#34270
Hi bli2016,

Not really. The validity of the argument doesn't depend on on the Mendel's subjective opinion about Ms. Sandstrom's ability to foresee the consequences of her actions. All that would matter is whether Ms. Sandstrom could actually reasonably expected the consequences. The Mendel's opinion is irrelevant.

Hope that helps.
 akanshalsat
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#59191
Hey! So I chose A correctly, and didn't think twice about it, but now looking at other people's questions I think I chose this answer without really considering much of the stimulus - I'm getting SUPER tripped up on why D is wrong: in a sufficient assumption question we have to choose an AC that (when added to the premises) completely validates the conclusion - which I get.

But doesn't D do that? Stim. says that "should pay for it IF she could have expected the damage" and D says YES she did KNOW of the possible damage therefore she SHOULD pay for it... so how is it wrong? I'm getting confused about how there being a conditional statement in the conclusion matters? Could someone please please break this down in detail for me?
 Charlie Melman
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#62874
Hi akanshalsat,

I see exactly where you're getting tripped up. The LSAT loves to ask LR questions that give you some moral conclusion ("X should do Y") and then step back and ask "OK, but what do you need to assume to get that moral conclusion?"

Here, answer choice (A) provides that assumption: Ms. Sandstrom is only obligated to pay for the damage (she "should" pay for it) if there's a hard rule that says you should pay for damage you could have reasonably have expected other people to cause.

You're drawn to answer choice (D) because you know that knowledge is stronger than reasonable expectation. And you're thinking in a very LSAT-like way in doing that, which is great. But answer choice (D) doesn't resolve the underlying question: Even if Ms. Sandstrom knew that her column could cause other people to do damage, does that mean she should pay for that damage? We don't know. Answer choice (D) is silent on the moral logic of the stimulus.

Hope this helps!
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 cornflakes
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#85459
Hi Powerscore,

I am still confused by the explanation provided on why D is incorrect and A is correct. I believe the reason why I and other students may have missed this problem was in failing to express an accurate conclusion.

In the admin post, the conclusion is stated as follows: "The author concludes that if the Mendels are right, and the damage could have been reasonably expected, Ms. Sandstrom should pay for the damage." Subsequently, this can be diagrammed in two different ways that impact whether A or D is correct.

Way 1: Conclusion: If Ms Sandstrom could have reasonably expected the column would lead people to damage the farm --> Ms Sandstrom should pay.

In this interpretation, D works by simply supplying the sufficient condition that Ms Sandstrom did, in fact, know that her column could have lead people to damage the farm, allowing the necessary condition to follow. The only flaw I can see in this interpretation is "could" versus "would" - just she knew her column "could" result in other people damaging the farm doesn't mean she expected it "would" result in other people damaging the farm.

Way 2:

Conclusion: Ms Sandstrom should pay.

Premise: If, as the Mendel's claim, she could could have reasonably expected that the column would lead people to damage the Mendel's farm.

In this interpretation, it becomes more clear that there needs to be a link between reasonably expecting the column could cause damage and the conclusion that she should pay. In this interpretation, D would clearly not be enough, whereas A would establish the principle necessary to link the two ideas. We would still need to take the author's assumption that Ms Sandstrom did, in fact know.

Please advise on if this line of thinking is correct and if interpretation number two is the proper way to look at this one.
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 KelseyWoods
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#85957
Hi cornflakes!

You're correct that it is important to accurately identify the conclusion of this argument. But your analysis of how the answer choices apply to the different interpretations of the conclusions doesn't quite line up.

Remember that in Justify questions: Premises + Answer Choice = Conclusion

If the conclusion was simply "Ms. Sandstrom should pay" and if a premise was "If Ms. Sandstrom could have reasonably expected her column could lead to damage, then Ms. Sanstrom should pay for that damage," then answer choice (D) would prove that conclusion by providing the sufficient condition of that conditional rule in the premise. The formula would be:

If Ms. Sandstrom knew, then she should pay + Ms. Sandstrom knew = She should pay

But the conclusion is NOT that "Ms. Sandstrom should pay" and we do not have a conditional rule as a premise. Instead, the conclusion is the entire conditional statement that "If Ms. Sandstrom could have reasonably expected her column could lead to damage, then Ms. Sanstrom should pay for that damage." The premise that this is based on is that Ms. Sandstrom's column led to people damaging the Mendels' property. Answer choice (D) does not prove that that conditional rule must be true. The formula would look like this:

Column led to damage + Ms. Sandstrom knew =/= (does NOT equal) If Ms. Sandstrom knew, then she should pay

We can't prove a conditional rule is true by satisfying the sufficient condition of the rule we're trying to prove. Satisfying the sufficient condition can only prove that the necessary condition is true if we have already accepted that the conditional rule is true. But in this argument, we have not accepted that conditional relationship as true. We are trying to prove that conditional relationship is true.

Answer choice (A) gives us a principle to prove that that conditional relationship is true: "One should pay for any damage that one’s action leads other people to cause if one could have reasonably expected that the action would lead other people to cause damage."

The formula looks like this:

Column led to damage + If one could reasonably expect that an action would lead to damage, then one should pay for that damage = If Ms. Sandstrom knew, then she should pay

If we accept that the general conditional rule in answer choice (A) is true, then it proves that the rule as it applies to Ms. Sandstrom is true. We still don't know whether or not Ms. Sandstrom knew the damage her column would cause so we still don't know whether she should actually pay. But if answer choice (A) is true, then it proves that if Ms. Sandstrom did know the damage the column would cause, then she should pay.

Hope this helps!

Best,
Kelsey

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