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Parallel-PR, SN. The correct answer is (E)
The stimulus in this question sets up two conditional statements:
- Statement 1: Morally Good Benefits Another and Performed Intentionally
Statement 2: Harm Intended or Likely to Cause Harm Morally Bad
Also, while the question stem mentions only a single principle, we actually have two separate principles, either one (or both) of which may apply to the correct answer choice.
Note that only a few things are able to be concluded based on the two conditional statements above (a concept which is discussed in more detail in our LSAT courses and Chapter 21 of the LRB):
- From Statement 1: If something is known to be Morally Good (the sufficient condition), you can conclude that an action Benefits Another and Performed Intentionally. This is a classic Restatement.
From Statement 1: If something is known to not Benefit Another or not be Performed Intentionally (the negation of the necessary condition), you can conclude that an action is not Morally Good. This is the Contrapositive.
From Statement 2: If something is known where Harm was Intended or Likely to Cause Harm (the sufficient condition), you can conclude that an action is Morally Bad. This is a classic Restatement.
From Statement 2: If something is known to not be Morally Bad (the negation of the necessary condition), you can conclude that an action did not have Harm Intended and was not Likely to Cause Harm. This is the Contrapositive.
Answer choice (A): This answer attempts to apply the second principle, but no harm occurred in this instance, which is part of the operating environment for the second principle ("whereas an action that harms another person...").
Answer choice (B): This answer attempts to apply the first principle, but there is no way to actually conclude that an action is Morally Good (only that an action is not Morally Good), and thus this answer is instantly incorrect. Even if you could make the conclusion that an action was Morally Good, this answer would still be incorrect since Jeffrey's action here was not performed with the intention to benefit that other person (and was instead performed to help him obtain a promotion).
Answer choice (C): This answer is incorrect because we can't make a judgment about something being Morally Good, nor about the consequences. And even if you could make the conclusion that an action was Morally Good, this answer would still be incorrect since Teresa's action here did not benefit that other person (and instead caused harm).
Answer choice (D): This answer returns to the second principle, and concludes that Marilees performed a Morally Bad action. However, neither sufficient condition has been fulfilled (Harm Intended or Likely to Cause Harm) because giving a person a sandwich doesn't suggest possible harm (assuming it wasn't laced with poison ) and so there is no basis to say Marilees performed a Morally Bad act.
Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer. Jonathan being distracted while watching a three-year-old qualifies as a lack of reasonable forethought that is Likely to Cause Harm, and on that basis we can then properly conclude that Jonathan's action—conversing instead of watching his niece—is Morally Bad. Note LSAC's benevolence here: the niece only gets hit with a bicycle, and not something far worse!
Final note: this type of Parallel-Principle question appears on the LSAT with enough frequency that you want to completely understand the action of the principles above, and the conclusions that can (and can't) be drawn on the basis of them. It's the type of problem that looks difficult (and is difficult at first), but is one that over time can be done quite easily and quickly. Make sure you 100% understand this problem and how we solved it!
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