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Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=10859)

The correct answer choice is (B)

This question asks for the answer choice that would help reconcile the Kantian argument, that rational beings implicitly authorize behavior similar to their own, with the first author’s assertion that harmless lies would not provide sufficient reason to lie to a pathological liar.

Answer choice (A): Lying to a liar is not the same as responding to pathological behavior with pathological behavior, so the irrationality of such an act would have no relevance to this question.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. If rationality cannot be reasonably attributed to pathological behavior, then a pathological liar would not, according to the Kantian view, be implicitly authorizing others to lie to him. The two views would be compatible with each other, as they lead to the same conclusion regarding how to treat pathological liars.

Answer choice (C): This is an Opposite Answer, since this would make the two referenced assertions incompatible: Kant would argue that such liars, as rational beings, should be treated in kind; the author of passage A, meanwhile, would argue that without harm, there is little reason for such reciprocal treatment.

Answer choice (D): The distinction between duties and rights is only made in passage B, not in passage A. Consequently, it would not make the first author’s suggestion compatible with the Kantian argument presented in the second passage.

Answer choice (E): This choice would not reconcile the two authors’ assertions, so this cannot be the right answer choice.
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Thank you for this explanation. I had a super hard time with this question. I chose A because "pathological liar" who told "tall tales" (suggesting repeated lying) in my mind constituted pathological behavior. Even without the repeated lying, I still thought that was the case.

How is "lying to a liar" NOT "responding to pathological behavior with pathological behavior?" It just seems like such a far stretch to say pathological lying is NOT pathological behavior.

 Adam Tyson
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The distinction here, altheaD, is between "lying" and "pathological lying". I might tell a lie to a pathological liar, but that doesn't mean I am behaving pathologically. The Kantian argument is that however a rational person behaves towards you, you have the right to behave that way right back to them. The argument in passage A is that you don't have the right to lie to a pathological liar. To make those consistent, we need to show that the Kantian argument doesn't apply in this case, and we do that by saying that pathological behavior is not rational. At that point, the lies told by a pathological liar grant no rights under the Kantian approach because they are not the behavior of a rational being!

The rationality of the response isn't the issue here. The issue is whether you have the right to lie back to the liar (Kant) or not (author A). Answer A fails to reconcile those two apparently contradictory positions.

I hope that helps, and that I didn't sound completely pathological in the process!
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Thanks for the explanation! I think I understand why answer choice B is correct now. "Rationality cannot be reasonably attributed to pathological behavior" is basically another way of saying "it is reasonable to say that pathological behavior is irrational," correct?

However, I'm still a bit confused by the explanation of why D is wrong. Why wouldn't this question (which begins, "which of the following, if true") be analogous to a logical reasoning second family question in which we treat the answer choices as true statements and pick the one with the right kind of impact on the stimulus? Why do answer choices have to fit in with one of the texts to be considered valid?

Looking at the answer choices now, I feel that if D was true in some global sense, passage B would imply that one has no obligation to lie to pathological liars, whereas passage A would imply that one would be ill advised to lie to pathological liars. While "there's no obligation to do something" and "it's ill advised to do something" are not necessarily opposed, they're not totally compatible either. Do you think that interpretation of answer choice D also works?

Thanks for your help!
 James Finch
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Hi Forest,

The major issue with (D) is that while the precise wording used in it works with Kant's argument in passage B, it doesn't quite line up with St. Augustine's in passage A, because passage A only talks about not being sufficient to lie to the pathological (the sufficient condition) but not whether one has a right to do so (necessary condition). So it may still be that passage A's argument would be that one has neither the duty (sufficient condition) nor the right (necessary condition) to do so. For (D) to be correct, passage A would have to say that one has the right to lie to a pathological liar, and we don't know this. Instead, we're given a list of other factors that need to be considered before deciding how one should act. The last thing to note is that (D) is also a restatement of what is already said in passage B, and thus not new information, meaning it can't act as something new to bridge the gap between the arguments in passages A and B.

Hope this clears things up!
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That's very helpful, thank you!!
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This question's really been bothering me. And I think part of the reason is that the passage A take and passage B take on this issue already seemed super compatible to me. Big thank you in advance to anyone who can help me out here...

In passage B, the right vs duty distinction the author made seemed to basically be a necessary vs sufficient condition distinction (respectively).

Let's say X is a duty. If you have duty X, then you must do x. Having the duty is sufficient reason to do it.

Y, on the other hand, is a right: you can do Y (morally) ONLY if you have the right . Having the right is necessary to do it.

i.e., passage B had already rejected the possibility that another's offense was sufficient reason to reciprocate the offense ("you do not compel them to do so"). Rather, passage B's take says that another's offense is a necessary condition for you to commit the same offense to them (you have been "authorized" to treat them in a similar way).

This seemed to map perfectly onto passage A's statement that 1) the pathological liar would have "no cause for complaint if lied to" (virtually the same as saying he has authorized others to lie to him), but 2) it would not constitue "sufficient reason" to lie to him (virtually the same as "no duty" to lie back to him).

The only gap I could see between the two was Kant/passage B seem to leave it at "no injustice if one has acted within their rights," whereas passage A seems to more pointedly say that reciprocating the lies would have negative impacts.
To fill this gap, you could use Kant's reasoning to say that reciprocating the lie is in effect you authorizing others to lie to you. Which would connect it to passage A's "harm to self."

So I went with choice E; had I noticed that they were using irrelevant language directly from passage A, I probably would've realized it was a trap. However, I took "lower one's own standards" to mean "lower one's standards for how one is willing to be treated" because, again, you're authorizing people to lie to you. And I still feel like that holds up...

Choice B, on the other hand, doesn't seem to change anything. Kant could attribute rationality to the pathological lying and it still wouldn't change the fact that he has no sufficient reason (no duty) to lie back. He only has the right to lie back.

Where am I going wrong with this? Am I misinterpreting what they mean by "sufficient reason"? and why/how are the two stances incompatible in the first place?
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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Hi Owen,

From Passage A, we don't get that it's lying is necessary for being lied to. It's also not sufficient. The ideas of forfeiture and the concerns about harm to self, others, and the general trust all have to be taken into account. We don't know from Passage A exactly how these would all be considered together. But we do know from Passage A that there are a number of considerations when considering if a pathological liar should be lied to.

For Kant, if the pathological liar was rational, there would be no reason to think that it was wrong to lie to him. No injustice, no wrong. But that's inconsistent with Passage A, which says that it could be wrong to lie to the liar--there are other potential harms as described above. We aren't just considering the issue of can the pathological liar complain--we need to know if the act was wrongful on the part of the responding liar. And that's where the inconsistency pops in. Is it definitely ok to lie to the rational liar (in Passage B) or is there more to it (in Passage A)?

Answer choice (B) gets us past this incompatibility. By taking the pathological liar out of the realm of rationality, it pulls it away from the Kantian view that there's no injustice or wrong act in lying to that person. Now, just as Passage A did, we can consider the other issues (harm to self, and so on) and come up with a compatible view.

The idea of lowering standards doesn't even come up in Passage B, and answer choice (E) would not have any impact in bringing the two views together.

Hope that helps.
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yes, thank you so much!

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