# LSAT and Law School Admissions Forum

Get expert LSAT preparation and law school admissions advice from PowerScore Test Preparation.

## #12 - City councilperson: Many city residents oppose

• Posts: 84
• Joined: Jul 07, 2017
#46860

It totally just clicked. I didn't even think to negate "nothing" into "something" because I was focusing too much on the mechanics. Thank you for the thorough response!!!

Jessica
Res Publica
• Posts: 11
• Joined: Aug 30, 2018
#55816
I’m having trouble diagramming the conditional in this problem. I arrived at the answer inuiiviely and by using the mechanistic approach. But I would still like to understand how this is diagrammed conditionally.

Here’s how I diagrammed the argument:
Where
P = purpose of art
D = debate ideas
A = qualifies as art

Premise 1) D -> P
Premise 2) D
Conclusion) A

Obviously, there is a missing link in this argument, and P -> A (answer choice D) allows us to make a syllogism chain that goes from D -> P -> A So given D, we know A. This makes sense to me.

My question is, why is the first premise, “...the purpose of art is to cause experts to debate ideas, including ideas about what constitutes art itself” diagrammed as D -> P and not P -> D? I always thought statemts that follow the pattern “X is Y” can be diagrammed as if X, then Y. Where am I going wrong in diagramming the statement?

Thanks!
Res Publica
James Finch
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 944
• Joined: Sep 06, 2017
#56801
Hi Res,

The way to look at the first premise is actually as a biconditional, in that the councilman is claiming is one single purpose of art ("the purpose of art" as opposed to "a purpose of art") and that it is to cause debate amongst experts. So I'd diagram that as:

Purpose Art (PA) Cause Debate Amongst Experts (CDAE)

The means they are both sufficient and necessary for each other, and whenever we have one condition fulfilled, we know the other condition is fulfilled as well. The stimulus tells us that the CDAE condition is fulfilled, but does a bait-and-switch and claims then that the object is art; as you note, the logical gap is between fulfilling the purpose of art and being art. So if we fill in:

PA Art (A)

then we can chain it together as:

CDAE PA A

Hope this clears things up!
Res Publica
• Posts: 11
• Joined: Aug 30, 2018
#57065
Thank you for your speedy response, James!

That does help my understanding. However, I still wonder if there is a way that you can reliably detect biconditional statements. Is it the singular aspect of "the" that makes it go both ways?

Thanks, I've just been so confused with reliably diagramming conditionals
hassan66
• Posts: 51
• Joined: Jul 19, 2018
#57185
Adam Tyson wrote:Try a very mechanical approach to this and many other Justify questions, Studier. Take whatever you find in the conclusion that was not mentioned elsewhere, and link it to something in the premises that was not found in the conclusion.

What is the new or "rogue" element in the conclusion? This thing, this ediface, is in fact art. What is new in the premises, not mentioned in the conclusion? The concept of purpose. Both the premises and conclusion talk about debate - the purpose is debate and this thing causes debate - so that idea about debate is not needed in the justify answer. Instead, link "purpose" to "it's art".

Answer D does that - if it meets the purpose of art, it is art. Boom, you have made your connection. That is what we call the mechanistic approach to justify questions, and whenever you are lost in one of these try finding your way home that way. Eliminate the common elements and link the rogue ones, and you are home.

Give that a try on a handful of practice Justify questions and see if it doesn't help you cut through the haze some. I know it works wonders for me. Good luck!
Hi Adam (and any other Powerscore Staff),

I use this approach on assumption questions and it works well too- find the phrases/ideas that are not mentioned in the premises or the conclusions and connect those. However, I know that sometimes the testmakers will include both the justify and necessary assumption answer choices in a justify question for example (prep test 57, section 3, Q 24). How can this technique work for both situations if there both answers can be included to trick you? I didn't have an issue with the above mentioned question but I noticed that the same technique i use for necessary assumption questions can work for justify questions. Is the difference in how the answer choices are phrased? In answer choice, D, it says that the sufficient will lead to the necessary which strengthens what we have in the stimulus. If it were an assumption would it be reversed? I am not sure if this makes much sense but any clarity will help!

Thank you!
Rachael Wilkenfeld
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 529
• Joined: Dec 15, 2011
#57338
Res Publica wrote:Thank you for your speedy response, James!

That does help my understanding. However, I still wonder if there is a way that you can reliably detect biconditional statements. Is it the singular aspect of "the" that makes it go both ways?

Thanks, I've just been so confused with reliably diagramming conditionals
Hi Res,

The key with biconditionals is recognizing that they are describing a single term as both sufficient and necessary. Here you have "the" purpose of art is to cause debate among experts. If we are talking about the one and only purpose of art we are saying that if it causes debate then it is fulfilling the purpose and if it is fulfilling the purpose it is causing debate.

Biconditionals are fairly uncommon so I wouldn't worry too much about them.

Good luck!
Rachael Wilkenfeld
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 529
• Joined: Dec 15, 2011
#57339
hassan66 wrote:
Adam Tyson wrote:Try a very mechanical approach to this and many other Justify questions, Studier. Take whatever you find in the conclusion that was not mentioned elsewhere, and link it to something in the premises that was not found in the conclusion.

What is the new or "rogue" element in the conclusion? This thing, this ediface, is in fact art. What is new in the premises, not mentioned in the conclusion? The concept of purpose. Both the premises and conclusion talk about debate - the purpose is debate and this thing causes debate - so that idea about debate is not needed in the justify answer. Instead, link "purpose" to "it's art".

Answer D does that - if it meets the purpose of art, it is art. Boom, you have made your connection. That is what we call the mechanistic approach to justify questions, and whenever you are lost in one of these try finding your way home that way. Eliminate the common elements and link the rogue ones, and you are home.

Give that a try on a handful of practice Justify questions and see if it doesn't help you cut through the haze some. I know it works wonders for me. Good luck!
Hi Adam (and any other Powerscore Staff),

I use this approach on assumption questions and it works well too- find the phrases/ideas that are not mentioned in the premises or the conclusions and connect those. However, I know that sometimes the testmakers will include both the justify and necessary assumption answer choices in a justify question for example (prep test 57, section 3, Q 24). How can this technique work for both situations if there both answers can be included to trick you? I didn't have an issue with the above mentioned question but I noticed that the same technique i use for necessary assumption questions can work for justify questions. Is the difference in how the answer choices are phrased? In answer choice, D, it says that the sufficient will lead to the necessary which strengthens what we have in the stimulus. If it were an assumption would it be reversed? I am not sure if this makes much sense but any clarity will help!

Thank you!
Hi Hassan,

Sometimes looking for rogue terms can be a good strategy in assumption questions as well. We typically call those "supporter assumptions" and they serve to link a gap in the argument, similar to what you would see in a justify question. However, some assumption questions will be a different type, defender assumptions. In these, instead of linking rogue terms we are eliminating possible objections that would undermine the conclusion, for example by eliminating an alternate cause in a causal argument.

The trick is recognizing that what is sufficient to make the conclusion follow (a correct justify answer choice) may not be strictly necessary for the conclusion to follow (a correct assumption answer choice). For example, if you were trying to support the claim that "The Cleveland Browns are a good football team" the fact that they won the Super Bowl this year would be a great justify answer. It's sufficient to show that the Browns were good, but it's not necessary. Plenty of other teams are good that don't win the Super Bowl. A necessary assumption may be that they were capable of winning at least one game. That answer choice would be necessary---a team that cannot win a single game cannot be considered "good" by most definitions--but it would not be sufficient.

I think that is why the two different tests for justify questions and assumptions questions are so critical. They help you focus on what the correct answer needs to do, and what role it plays in the argument. The Premise Testtm helps you see that the answer choice, when inserted into the stimulus, is enough to get to the conclusion. The Assumption Negation Test tm helps you see that the correct answer choice is absolutely necessary for the conclusion to follow.

Hope that helps!

Analyze and track your performance with our Testing and Analytics Package.