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 Dave Killoran
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#34116
Official Question Explanation

Parallel-PR, SN. The correct answer is (E)

The stimulus in this question sets up two conditional statements:

  • Statement 1: Morally Good :arrow: Benefits Another and Performed Intentionally

    and

    Statement 2: Harm Intended or Likely to Cause Harm :arrow: Morally Bad
For the first statement, "only if" introduces the necessary condition, and in the second statement "either if" introduces the sufficient condition.

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 :-D ) 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!
 akanshalsat
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#43222
Hello! I chose E, is it because, one of the sufficient conditions for a Morally Bad action is if a reasonable forethought would have shown that the action was likely to cause harm, and seeing that Jon became distracted gives enough reasonable forethought to show that the action was likely to cause harm? How can we assume that though?
 James Finch
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#43235
Hi Akansha,

In contrast to (D), it is reasonable to foresee a 3-year-old coming to harm if left to her own devices for several minutes, unlike the highly improbable choking hazard of a normal, edible sandwich. Given that it satisfies one of the two possible sufficient conditions, we can logically conclude that Jonathan's action is morally bad.

Hope this clears things up!
 rahimlsat
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#59805
Hi,

I initially diagrammed the first conditional statement as follows:

Benefits Another and Performed Intentionally :arrow: Morally Good

But when I went back to the question a second time after getting it wrong, I think "Benefits Another and Performed Intentionally" is the necessary condition given that the necessary condition indicator "only if" appears right before it.
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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#59814
Hi rahimlsat,

This stimulus has two different conditional statements that need to be diagrammed. The first is in the first line of the stimulus.

Morally good :arrow: benefits another and performed with that intention

I often find it easier to identify the necessary condition first. As you correctly identifies, "only if" identifies the necessary condition, and modifies benefits another and performed with that intention.

The second conditional the last part of the stimulus.

Harm intended or reasonable forethought would have predicted harm :arrow: morally bad

Here, the only conditional indicator is the word "if" which modifies harm intended. So we can recognize that it's introducing the sufficient condition.

Hope that helps!
 Fuyuno
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#61897
Hi,

I just need a little more explanation.
If second principle is

Harm Intended “or” Likely to Cause Harm :arrow: Morally Bad


I wonder how (A) does not show harm intended because “Pamela wrote a letter attempting to cause trouble between Edward and his friends” seems intended harm to me. Even if (A) does not show harm done, it still satisfies the first part of the second principle, isnt’t it?


Fuyuno
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 Dave Killoran
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#61904
Fuyuno wrote:Hi,

I just need a little more explanation.
If second principle is

Harm Intended “or” Likely to Cause Harm :arrow: Morally Bad


I wonder how (A) does not show harm intended because “Pamela wrote a letter attempting to cause trouble between Edward and his friends” seems intended harm to me. Even if (A) does not show harm done, it still satisfies the first part of the second principle, isnt’t it?


Fuyuno
Hi Fuyono,

The start of the second principle reads as follows: "whereas an action that harms another person..." So, to make a judgment of an action being Morally Bad, harm had to have occurred. Since that did not occur here, the rest of the principle is not applicable. Pretty tricky!

You might also want to review the initial explanation as I expanded it significantly prior to responding to you here.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
 180bound
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#86679
Hello!

I am having some troubles with the explanations. I agree with the diagraming of the two conditional statements save for some part; according to the explanation "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. " With the "OR" (and by the contrapositive containing "AND") I assumed that only one of the sufficient conditions for the "morally bad" conditional statement would have to be true to trigger the necessary condition. So with answer A, one of the conditions is definitely met (the bad intention). In the explanation presented here on the forums the diagram is presented as "Harm Intended or Likely to Cause Harm --> Morally Bad" But the advanced course changes this to Harm Intended AND Likely to Cause Harm --> Morally Bad" (In the advanced course a plus sign is used to indicate "and"). So why is this statement presented differently? Even the correct answer seemed to be predicated on assuming that both "harm intended" and "likely to cause harm" would have to be met to trigger the necessary condition; but again that just seems at odds with the stimulus. Thanks!
 Adam Tyson
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#87297
I'll have to forward your comment about the Advanced Course up the chain, 180bound, but the way it is presented in this Forum is correct. The second rule is based on an "or" rather than an "and." But bear in mind that the second rule is only triggered if some harm actually occurs (see Dave's comment a little further down in the thread on that point). So the sufficient condition in that second rule could be seen as:

If Harm Occurred and Harm was Intended

or

If Harm Occurred and Harm was Likely

That's why A fails to follow the rule; no harm occurred.

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