LSAT and Law School Admissions Forum

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

 purplekat_89
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: Jul 07, 2012
|
#4682
Hey Powerscore,

I'm not sure if this question has already been asked, but what's the difference between an example and analogy?

Specifically, I got stuck on Preptest 29 S1 question 2 and eliminated choice (A) because I thought the smoker was using an analogy instead of a counterexample since the smoker uses a comparison and parallels the situation.

Thanks!
 Nikki Siclunov
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 1364
  • Joined: Aug 02, 2011
|
#4687
Thanks for your question!

You are right that the smoker compares high-fat foods to smoking, but this comparison serves to illustrate why the politician's conclusion should be rejected. That's the essence of a counterexample: an example that serves to refute a claim by describing a situation in which the premises might hold true, but the conclusion does not. Yes, smoking causes health problems, but so do high-fat foods. We don't ask consumers of high-fat foods to bear the burden of financing the campaign, so we shouldn't ask smokers to do the same.

In general, counterexamples demonstrate an exception to the general rule claimed in the original argument. That's different from an argument by analogy, which is based merely on a similarity between two situations, and the conclusion drawn is a result of that comparison. In the scenario you gave, a counterargument by analogy would be: high-fat foods cause as many serious problems as does smoking, so if you force smokers to pay for the campaign, you should force consumers of such foods to do the same.

Here's a simpler version of the argument:

Premise: Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer.
Premise: Lung cancer poses a risk to your life.
Conclusion: You should stop smoking.

An example would be: In 2011, there were 200,000 new cases of lung cancer in the US alone, and most of those diagnosed were smokers. This illustrates the risk of smoking and therefore serves as an example.

An analogy would be: Just like you don't drive without wearing a seat belt, you shouldn't voluntarily incur the risk of smoking. This is not an example, because we don't seek to illustrate the dangers of smoking. It's just an analogous situation.

Let me know if this clears things up.
 purplekat_89
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: Jul 07, 2012
|
#4692
Thanks for the response. I can see now how the two are slightly different, but on some lsat questions I've seen some stimuli also use an analogy to illustrate an idea or prove a point, just like an example would.

But it seems like according to what you're saying, an analogy can illustrate an idea or support a conclusion but it supports a conclusion in a different way; it supports it by equating or saying that two things are similar. For an example, it is more of a situation that is representative of the conclusion, like an instance.
 Nikki Siclunov
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 1364
  • Joined: Aug 02, 2011
|
#4693
That's exactly right. An analogy can be used as an example, and sometimes the distinction is so small that you wouldn't be tested on it (e.g. in the Politician/Smoker question, there was no decoy saying this is an "analogy," because someone could successfully argue that it is). So although some analogies can be used as examples (to illustrate a comparison between two similar things and argue that they must be treated in the same way), not all analogies are examples, and not all examples, obviously, are analogies.

:-)
 purplekat_89
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: Jul 07, 2012
|
#4696
Great, thanks for the help!
 lsatdaily
  • Posts: 10
  • Joined: Sep 28, 2018
|
#60987
Hi powerscore,

Can someone please explain what makes C incorrect? I eliminated A, "counterexample" because I considered the cigarette causing serious health problem as a supporting premise for the conclusion, "funding should come from tax increase on cigarettes", not as an example.

Thank you in advance!
 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 3883
  • Joined: Apr 14, 2011
|
#61632
A counterexample is a specific instance that is used to disprove or discredit a claim, lsatdaily, and the counterexample here is the group of people who eat fatty foods. The smoker uses this counterexample to highlight what he sees as the unfairness in the politician's approach - you wouldn't do it to those people, who are partly to blame, so why do it to my group, who are also partly to blame? Both groups are causing many serious health problems, and it is a nationwide health awareness campaign, so why make just one of those groups foot the bill?

The smoker here never suggests that the politician's proposal would be inadequate. That would mean the tax on smokers wouldn't raise enough money to pay for the campaign. While that might have been a good response, it wasn't the response that the smoker gave, and so it does not describe his method of reasoning. Focus instead on what he did do - he brought up this other group of people and used it to show that what the politician proposed was unreasonable. Speaking for myself, I would have called this an analogy rather than a counterexample, but answer A is still the closest match.

For Method of Reasoning questions, be sure you are selecting an answer that describes what the argument did! They are in the same category as Must Be True questions, and have to be based on the facts in the stimulus. Since no element of "inadequacy" was raised in the argument, that violates the Fact Test, and answer C has to be rejected for that reason.

Get the most out of your LSAT Prep Plus subscription.

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