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Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=10362)

The correct answer choice is (B)

This question requires that we parallel the scholars’ application of the utility maximization principle to the crime deterrence debate, described mainly in the third paragraph of the passage. This question is similar to some Parallel Reasoning questions in the Logical Reasoning section of the test. The first step, then, is to produce an abstraction of the relationship between the utility maximization principle and the deterrence debate. A good abstraction of that relationship would be: a new perspective shows that two seemingly antithetical views are surprisingly complementary.

Answer choice (A): The utility maximization principle is neither a paradox nor a metaphor.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. Just like the law of optics is used to demonstrate that two seemingly divergent lines actually run parallel to each other, the utility maximization principle shows that the two sides of the crime deterrence debate are not in conflict.

Answer choice (C): The utility maximization principle cannot be reduced to a quotation.

Answer choice (D): Although the utility maximization principle is derived from one field (economics) and applied to another (law), it provides a new perspective, not new evidence, to weigh in on a controversial issue.

Answer choice (E): While the utility maximization principle is used to resolve a controversial issue, we cannot reduce its significance to a short quotation.
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Can you explain Answer Choice B a little more. I don't see how the answer choice shows something something similar to the interaction between the utility maximization principle and the deterrence debate. I was really confused on this question and actually just guessed. :( Thanks!
 Adam Tyson
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Thanks for the question, CBear, and happy to help! One of our tools for Parallel Reasoning questions, and the one that I find most useful when I encounter this type of question in Reading Comp, is the Test of AbstractionTM. Strip away the details and describe what happened of the passage in abstract terms.

In this case, an abstraction of the passage might be "an idea from one field of study is applied to another field of study to show that two things that appear to be in conflict actually work in harmony with each other." In the stimulus, that idea is utility maximization, the one field of study is economics, the other field of study is criminal justice, and the two things that appeared to be in conflict were the "increasing economic access" and "increasing penalties" approaches.

Now, find an answer choice that provides new "flesh" for the same "skeleton" (the abstraction) of the passage. Answer B does that nicely - an idea from one field of study (optics) is applied to another field of study (drawing) to show that two things that appear to be in conflict (diverging lines) actually work in harmony with each other (run parallel). None of the other answer choices have that same abstraction, and so B is the best choice of the bunch.

That same approach can be used on many parallel reasoning questions in Logical Reasoning, too, although there are other tools that may be easier and more efficient, like comparing the conclusion of the stimulus to the conclusion of the answer choice, or looking at the overall type of reasoning and the validity of the argument, among others. I always like to keep that abstraction approach running in the back of my mind in LR - I tend to abstract almost every stimulus as I read it, as that helps me on so many question types other than just parallel reasoning. Details rarely matter, since this is a test of logic and not of knowledge, and abstractions can help you find weaknesses, flaws, and make inferences too. With time and practice, you can start doing that too!

I hope that helped. Good luck in your continued studies!
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Thanks so much Adam! That was super helpful and explanatory. I'm taking the online class and we have only finished lesson 7 discussing Method of Reasoning and Flaw in Reasoning. I started taking weekly tests and didn't realize the course would tell me when you to take the ones provideded in the book. :0 Thank you!
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How does the part in the question stem stating "some legal scholars'" actually refer to the author?

Had I known the question stem was referring to the author, I would have answered the question much more easily and, ultimately, correctly.
Thanks in advance.
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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Hi Katherinthesky,

Good question. In most reading comprehension passages, it's critical to track the different viewpoints. How do we know the author's viewpoint on utility maximization? First, we note that the "some legal scholars" language in the question stem is very close to the language introducing utility maximization starting around line 18. We then turn to the end of the passage to understand that the author of our passage agrees with this framework, referring to it as "optimal."

Hope that helps!

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