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  • Posts: 185
  • Joined: Apr 25, 2012
I have a question. Well, while solving this, I chose D. Even though, this is not an assumption question, but I was wondering what the assumption could be and how the logical reasoning would fit. (<=== this is as per the advice in the Powerscore book)

Premise - Social issues have Pol. implications (PI) and seldom can be settled (can BS) => obligation to provide equal time does arise.

Conclusion - If the program concerns scientific issues => scientific issues' program has no equal time obligation.

Let's try to come up with an assumption chain, leading to conclusion.

Social issues have PI and can BS => Scientific issues have PI and can BS => {CRASH} (I dont have anything to take contrapositive of PRemise because the conclusion requires "no equal time" as a necessary condition. Premise says PI => equal time. How do I get negation of "PI=> equal time"? If I negate PI => equal time to say that ~PI => ~ equal time, then, in effect, I will be reversing the sufficient and necessary conditions, or in other words, If PI =only way=> equal time)

Any thoughts? Please help.
 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 3880
  • Joined: Apr 14, 2011

I think the disconnect you may be experiencing here is that you appear to be approaching this question as containing conditional reasoning, while the better approach is to recognize the causal reasoning here. We could force it into a conditional framework, but as you've seen that doesn't end up helping us much.

The key indicator here word is, of course, "because", found in the second sentence. So, what is the author claiming is a cause and what is the claimed effect? The cause here is the social issues with political implications that cannot be solved on the basis of evidence (and note that I say "cannot be settled", which isn't exactly what they said - they said "can seldom be settled" - but it's close enough for our needs). The effect is that an obligation to provide equal time to opposing views arises.

The author then concludes that when a program concerns scientific issues, no such obligation arises. He's saying that the effect (the obligation to provide equal time) is absent. Since he made a causal argument, he must therefore be assuming that the cause (those tricky social issues) is also absent. If we are looking for assumptions as you suggest, then we would note that he must be assuming that scientific issues do not overlap with any of those social issues, along with the other classic causal assumptions - that there is no alternate cause, that the effect is always present when the cause is present, etc.

Answer choice D weakens the argument by suggesting that in the scenario the author presented in his conclusion the cause could still be present - that scientific issues can include social issues - and that therefore the author is wrong to suggest that the effect (the obligation to provide equal time) is absent.

Watch for those key words, like "because", and then focus your analysis on the type of reasoning presented. It's definitely easier to work with (and especially to weaken) a causal argument than a conditional argument, so don't make it any harder on yourself by treating this as conditional.

Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT Instructor

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