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#23035
Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (D)

The stimulus concludes that abstract paintings can never be a politically significant form of art, because they are nonrepresentational and therefore do not spur the viewer to political action. This argument uses conditional reasoning, so it may be worth your time to quickly diagram it:
  • AP = abstract paintings

    R = representational

    SPA = spur political action

    PSA = politically significant art form

    Premise: AP ..... :arrow: ..... R

    Premise: R ..... :arrow: ..... SPA

    ========================

    Conclusion: AP ..... :arrow: ..... PSA
The two premises, when taken together, only lend support to the idea that abstract paintings cannot spur the viewer to political action (SPA) That does not, however, justify the claim that they are not a politically significant art form. In fact, nowhere else in this argument does the author talk about what constitutes a "politically significant art form." Because this is the new, rogue element in the conclusion, the proper Supporter Assumption will necessarily address it. A quick scan through all five answer choices reveals that only answer choice (D) deals with it — and that, of course, is the correct answer choice. If a painting does not spur to political action, it is not a politically significant art form (SPA ..... :arrow: ..... PSA).

Answer choice (A): The argument does not rely on the idea that abstract paintings cannot stimulate people to act — the premise is that they do not stimulate political action. Even if abstract paintings could stimulate people to act, they may still be unable to stimulate political action.

Answer choice (B): The significance of people's political activity is irrelevant to this argument. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): Because this answer choice links political action to artistic significance, it may seem attractive at first. However, significant art need not be restricted to art that prompts people to counter social injustice. What if other art forms were equally (or more) significant? This would not change the conclusion, which is about politically significant art forms, not significant art forms in general. Had the author concluded that abstract paintings can never be significant art, this would have been a fine answer.

Beware of Shell Game answers — they occur when an idea or concept is raised in the stimulus and then a very similar idea appears in the answer choice, but the idea is changed just enough to be incorrect but still attractive. In Assumption questions, the Shell Game is usually used to support a conclusion that is similar to, but slightly different from, the one presented in the stimulus.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. The author relies on the assumption that paintings that fail to move a viewer to political action cannot be politically significant. If such paintings could be politically significant for other reasons, her conclusion would be undermined.

Answer choice (E): Even if the worth of representational paintings could be measured by analyzing the interplay of color, texture and form, representational paintings are not the focus of this argument: abstract paintings are. Furthermore, measuring the worth of any painting is an irrelevant consideration in this argument. This answer choice is incorrect.
 brettb
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#22730
I missed this one. I chose A not D. I'm not really concerned with the fact that I missed it. I'm more concerned that I don't quite grasp the conditional reasoning present in the stimulus.

I revisited chapter 6 in the LR Bible and have worked through the conditional reasoning drill in the workbook and have a solid grasp on how to diagram when obvious conditional indicators are present. However, after reading through Dave's explanation in the workbook I have a few questions.

Dave diagrammed the premises:
AP :arrow: R
R :arrow: SPA

How can I identify that I need to diagram AP :arrow: R?
As a follow up to that the next sentence, -"so the only measure of their worth is their interplay" - how do I know that I do NOT need to diagram any part of that? I would think that sentence would be more likely to have a diagram for it. Just glancing over it quickly I see the words "so" & "the only" which quickly grab my attention, yet none of this sentence is contained in the diagram.

I seem to be getting confused on why certain parts of the stimulus have visual representation, and why other parts of the stimulus do not. Also, clarity how to determine when & when not to diagram would be helpful. Thanks in advance!
 Adam Tyson
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#22743
Conditional "indicators" are often implied, especially "all". A statement that "rocks are heavy" implies that ALL rocks are heavy (and therefore you could diagram R --> H). That's really what's going on with the classic "people who" sufficient indicator - it really means ALL people who. Reading that first phrase again, you can see that ALL is implied here - All abstract paintings are nonrepresentational. That should start you down the path of reviewing this conditionally.

As to the second phrase, it is clearly conditional - "only" is the key indicator there. It's something like "M(easure) W(orth) --> I(nterplay). Why is that not in our explanation? Probably because it ultimately proves to be unimportant - those two terms don't end up connecting to anything else. The LSAT does that a lot - sets up a conditional relationship with two or more statements that connect while also including one that does not connect and is therefore just a distraction. Typically a lot of the wrong answers will try to connect that rogue statement to the others, which can't be done - that's what happens in answer E here.

If you were to diagram that phrase as part of your attempt to break down and analyze the stimulus, you wouldn't be wrong, but at some point you would have to see that it's a rogue element, and then you should be inclined to look elsewhere for things that do connect to find your answer. A goal, though, is to get to a point where you can read the stimulus and see that some ideas connect due to a common element (abstract painting is something that connects to both "nonrepresentational" and "never significant") and to know that your answer probably lies in making that connection, while other ideas are just out there on their own and are therefore probably there to waste your time.

For now, diagram whenever you see that it's called for. To use one of my favorite old sayings from the Army, "When in doubt, whip it out." (That means if you aren't sure whether someone approaching you is an officer, salute them just in case they are.) Over time, as you hone your diagramming skills and your intuition for conditional relationships, you will likely find that it isn't always necessary, and that's where you can save a little time and effort. At this stage it is probably better to diagram something you ultimately don't need than it is to not diagram something that you do need. One warning, though - not everything on this test is conditional, so don't force things into a conditional framework when it's not called for by the language (including implied "all").
 brettb
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#22751
Adam,

Thank you very much for your thorough reply. That seems so obvious it implies All. I knew I was missing something and I think that was definitely it. I suspect that little piece will help me tremendously as I'm working through the problems.

It makes sense that the second phrase wasn't diagrammed as it ultimately doesn't help to solve the problem and I think your right, I'll improve on making that determination that over time.

Thanks again for your help on this question, and on my other question on PT31.
 avengingangel
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#28291
shouldn't the second conclusion be diagrammed as SPA :arrow: R ? That's how I diagrammed it to get the correct answer, and it made sense to me. I'm not quite following your explanation here...

In total, I diagrammed:

AP :arrow: R
SPA :arrow: R
A :arrow: PSA

And thus, realized I needed to find the answer that showed: PSA :arrow: SPA (the contrapositive of answer (D). Did I make a mistake in my reasoning here ?? Did I reverse (D) ?? Thanks!
 Nikki Siclunov
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#28351
Angel,

Thanks for pointing this out. There was indeed a typo in the original explanation, which I have since corrected. Here's how I'd simplify the reasoning here:

The premises form the following chain:
  • Premise(s): AP :arrow: R :arrow: SPA
    Conclusion: AP :arrow: PSA
What's missing? A link between PSA and SPA:
  • Assumption: SPA :arrow: PSA
    Contrapositive: PSA :arrow: SPA
Looks like this is exactly what you did, so good job on this one! :)
 Blueballoon5%
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#44890
Administrator wrote:
Premise: R ..... :arrow: ..... SPA
Hello! Where did you get this conditional statement in the stimulus? Is this conditional statement referring to the second sentence: "But for a painting to spur the viewer to political action, instances of social injustice must be not only represented, but also clearly comprehensible as such."
 Adam Tyson
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#48017
Yes indeed, balloon! It might be easier for you to see that sentence in the contrapositive, which could be paraphrased as "if a painting spurs political action, it is representational" and diagrammed as:

SPA :arrow: R

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