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#26517
Complete Question Explanation

WeakenX. The correct answer choice is (C)

This stimulus begins with the presentation of a common sentiment: “Some people” propose that energy taxes should be increased. The editorialist’s conclusion: “Such a tax increase…would do more harm than good.”

This conclusion is based on the following premises:

  • Premise 1: Such a tax increase would decrease our country’s competitiveness.

    Premise 2: Many families would be unfairly burdened.

    Premise 3: The tax increase would reduce the number of energy production jobs.
The stimulus is followed by a Weaken Except question, which means that the correct answer choice will not weaken the editorialist’s argument, and the four incorrect answer choices will weaken the argument in one way or another. We might weaken such an argument by showing benefit that the proposed tax increases would bring, or by effectively attacking any of the editorialist’s premises.

Answer choices (A) and (B) both show benefits that come with the proposed tax increases, thus weakening the editorialist’s argument, so both these answer choices are incorrect responses to this Except question. Answer choice (D) attacks the second premise, and answer choice (E) offsets the third premise; since both (D) and (E) weaken the editorialist argument, both answer choices are incorrect.

The only choice which does not weaken the argument is answer choice (C). The variation in the size of the tax increase does not weaken the argument presented in the stimulus, so this is the correct answer choice.
 Blueballoon5%
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#40610
I don't understand how answer choice B would weaken the argument. The editorialist is not saying anything about the environment. He or she is more concerned with the greater harm of the tax increase on the country's competitiveness, high transportation costs, and jobs. The editorlist didn't say that there was no benefit to the tax increase; only that he or she thought these three reasons (competitiveness, transportation costs, and jobs) were more important to consider.
 Francis O'Rourke
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#41121
Hi BlueBalloon,

The Editorialist concluded that the energy tax would do more harm than good. We should thus expect four answer choices to weaken this claim by showing a benefit to the tax or by showing that a supposed harm is not present or less harmful than assumed.

Answer choice (B) shows a benefit to the tax. The speaker only spoke of the economic implications of the tax and concluded that the tax is on balance more harmful than beneficial. This answer choice points out an environmental, or non-financial benefit to the tax. The speaker never claimed that the economic factors are the only ones to consider. The speaker actually seems to overlook other considerations.

If someone argued that a tax is bad because it is economically harmful, we could object to that person's argument by pointing out that there are other considerations to keep in mind. This is exactly what answer choice (B) does by pointing to the environmental impact of the tax.

Let me know if this helps! :-D
 menkenj
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#83054
This question in particular reminded me of the power in knowing the conclusion. Often LSAT stimuli include multiple perspectives, many details, and convoluted language. I can easily get lost in it all. When I find myself lost I anchor to the conclusion. Using the conclusion as a grounding point provides a starting point around which the other pieces of the stimulus can start to make sense. It's like a puzzle whereby the conclusion is the key.

I found this question particularly easy because I held the conclusion clearly in mind as I approached the answer choices.
Unlocking the LSAT puzzle one piece at a time!
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 AspenHerman
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#87270
Going along with the discussion above, about how the editor didn't mention anything about environmental impact, so how is B not the answer: when is an answer out of scope (course book, 3-2)? I know that we need to consider new information in the answer choices, but if B is to out of scope, what would be an example of an out of scope answer here?

Thank you!
 Robert Carroll
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#88244
Aspen,

The conclusion says the proposal would "do more harm than good". Any harm and any good are covered by that conclusion, so the editorialist is open to any criticism that shows any good could result from the proposal. The editorialist, by making such a broad claim in the conclusion, made anything harmful and anything beneficial relevant, so now environmental concerns, as well as any others (if they could cause harm or good), are now relevant.

It's true that the premises only discuss economics, but that's the whole problem - the premises are about a certain category of harms/goods, whereas the conclusion is about all harms and goods that could result. So we have an Incomplete Information situation in the stimulus.

That settles decisively that answer choice (B) weakens the argument, but note also that if you say "Why is B not the answer?" you're committing yourself to saying that answer choice (C) does weaken the argument. I haven't seen any case for that made in this thread, and one couldn't be made, as it is entirely irrelevant to the argument.

Robert Carroll
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 AspenHerman
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#88269
Robert Carroll wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 11:54 am Aspen,

The conclusion says the proposal would "do more harm than good". Any harm and any good are covered by that conclusion, so the editorialist is open to any criticism that shows any good could result from the proposal. The editorialist, by making such a broad claim in the conclusion, made anything harmful and anything beneficial relevant, so now environmental concerns, as well as any others (if they could cause harm or good), are now relevant.

It's true that the premises only discuss economics, but that's the whole problem - the premises are about a certain category of harms/goods, whereas the conclusion is about all harms and goods that could result. So we have an Incomplete Information situation in the stimulus.

That settles decisively that answer choice (B) weakens the argument, but note also that if you say "Why is B not the answer?" you're committing yourself to saying that answer choice (C) does weaken the argument. I haven't seen any case for that made in this thread, and one couldn't be made, as it is entirely irrelevant to the argument.

Robert Carroll
Thank you for your response! This helps a lot!
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 lschlueter
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#89013
Robert Carroll wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 11:54 am Aspen,

The conclusion says the proposal would "do more harm than good". Any harm and any good are covered by that conclusion, so the editorialist is open to any criticism that shows any good could result from the proposal. The editorialist, by making such a broad claim in the conclusion, made anything harmful and anything beneficial relevant, so now environmental concerns, as well as any others (if they could cause harm or good), are now relevant.

It's true that the premises only discuss economics, but that's the whole problem - the premises are about a certain category of harms/goods, whereas the conclusion is about all harms and goods that could result. So we have an Incomplete Information situation in the stimulus.

That settles decisively that answer choice (B) weakens the argument, but note also that if you say "Why is B not the answer?" you're committing yourself to saying that answer choice (C) does weaken the argument. I haven't seen any case for that made in this thread, and one couldn't be made, as it is entirely irrelevant to the argument.

Robert Carroll
I think you could make that case though! because if the tax is much proportionally higher for some energy sources than others, then some of the taxes (although increased) might be inconsequentially low, which would weaken many of the negative effects resulting from the tax. Why does this not work? thanks!
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 Beatrice Brown
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#89073
Hi Lschlueter! Thanks so much for your great question :)

For answer choice (C) to effectively weaken the argument, it needs to provide a reason why the tax increase would do more harm than good, in light of the premises put forth by the editorialist. All answer choice (C) tells us is the relative size of the tax would depend on the energy source. But just because the tax increase is greater on oil than on gasoline, for example, doesn't weaken the idea that the increase would do more harm than good. Even a slight tax increase on oil, gasoline, or coal can have the same deleterious effects that the editorialist cites, like decreasing competitiveness and increasing transportation costs. Just because the smaller tax increase may have fewer negative effects than otherwise, as you note, doesn't necessarily entail that the good will outweigh the bad.

Furthermore, even if the tax increase is exceedingly low for oil and gasoline, if it's still very high for coal, then all of the negative effects that the editorialist cites will still happen. The size of the tax increase for each energy source in question, in other words, doesn't necessarily impact whether the good will outweigh the bad.

By contrast, the rest of the answer choices point to positive consequences of the tax increase, which weakens the editorialist's conclusion that there will be more harm than good.

I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions!

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