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Complete Question Explanation

Main Point. The correct answer choice is (A)

Main Point questions are excellent opportunities to engage with stimuli in two different ways, bridging the gap between strictly making an inference and analyzing the structure of an argument. As opposed to many Must Be True stimuli, Main Point stimuli contain or imply a conclusion or claim. Since your task is to identify what this conclusion is, you may find the process somewhat more challenging on these questions than elsewhere. On this problem, the developers of the LSAT use abstract language and concepts to conceal the argument within an abstruse carapace. To meet this challenge head on, it is sometimes useful to take a step back and ask yourself, "So what's this dude getting at?"

Because the actual main conclusion may either be tacit (implied but not present in the stimulus per se) or contained within a chain of antecedents to demonstrative pronouns (e.g. "This is a mistake." What's this? "The economists' plan." What's the economists' plan? "An excise tax on cheeseburgers."), take a step back and see whether you can identify the gist of the argument in your own words. Then look for the statement in the stimulus that corresponds to your prediction.

Now let's break down the structure of this particular stimulus:
  1. Is faithfulness a virtue? Depends on what you're faithful to.
  2. Virtues are laudable.
  3. Resentment isn't laudable, so it's not virtuous.
  4. But resentment is actually a kind of faithfulness to bad feelings.
    Is faithfulness a virtue? Depends on what you're faithful to.
Follow the train of thought. It brings you right back to the start! The first statement is the end of the train of thought and the main conclusion. How can you verify this? Does it have statements backing it up? Yes, the rest of the stimulus. Is it subordinate to some other main conclusion? No, that's it. It's the terminus of the argument. Use either this first statement or your close paraphrase as your prephrase. The credited response will be a paraphrase of the first statement.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. The writers obviously had fun with this one. It would be too easy simply to restate verbatim the first line, so they took the subject and predicate and flipped them. Otherwise this choice is more or less a precise match for our prephrase and the first statement in the stimulus.

Answer choice (B): Like many incorrect answers on Main Point questions, this answer choice is true according to the stimulus but not the main point. Thus you must make a distinction between Must Be True questions and Main Point questions.

Answer choice (C): This is both not the main point and also not necessarily true. Though resentment ("faithfulness to hatred or animosities") is not praiseworthy and thus not virtuous, it is still possible that some other behaviors that emerge from hatred or animosity could be virtuous, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter because this isn't the main point!

Answer choice (D): This choice just collapses and rearranges the stimulus like a Rubik's cube. Let's take some ideas from the stimulus and rearrange them into a syntactically correct sentence. Great job everyone!

Answer choice (E): This choice attempts to deceive students who are fixated on a premise, premise, conclusion order in the stimulus. A key point about Main Point stimuli (and many other more challenging stimuli) is that the conclusion need not be last. It could be first or somewhere in the middle. This choice also uses "opinion"-style language ("should") to create an attractive scenario: conclusions are often opinions, ergo this answer might look good. Lastly, this statement incorrectly qualifies a demonstrable fact from the stimulus: Not only should no one consider resentment a virtue, no one does!
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I really struggled with this question. I don't know if it was the wording or what, but even with the right answer in front of me I am having a difficult time with it.

Scored a 160 total, most of my missed questions I understand clearly now, just hung up here. Is this considered a highly difficult question, or am I just losing my brain here?
 Kristina Moen
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Hi dented,

First, congratulations on the 160!

You probably identified this as a Main Point question. Some might say it was a particularly difficult Main Point question. So let's break down the stimulus.

It starts off with "Whether or not one can rightfully call a person's faithfulness a virtue depends in part on the object of that person's faithfulness."

So I know there's some type of causal reasoning here. The object of the person's faithfulness is the cause, and whether the faithfulness can be called a virtue is the effect. I don't know if this is the conclusion or not. But then the next sentence explains WHY. Remember, a premise explains WHY. The last sentence explains why the object might partly determine whether faithfulness is a virtue - because resentment is form of faithfulness to hatreds/animosities, and that's not called virtuous. He's not arguing that resentment should not be called virtuous - he states it as a fact. "No one considers resentment virtuous." Resentment is used as an example to support the conclusion, which is the first sentence.

Thus, the first sentence is the conclusion. No, it's not the best argument ever. But answer choice (A) is a paraphrase of the first sentence. It's almost word-for-word, although it flips the order. It says that the "The cause partially determines the effect." The first sentence in the premise said "The effect depends in part on the cause."

Hope that helps.
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Question: What does the stimulus mean by "object of that person's faithfulness"? Can this be translated into laymen terms, please, by one of the LSAT experts? Thanks in advance
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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Sure, mkarimi73. The "object of a person's faithfulness" is the person or thing that a person is faithful to. For example, if someone was faithful to their spouse, then their spouse would be the object of the person's faithfulness. Someone could also be faithful to a concept, like fairness. In that case, that concept would be the object of the person's faithfulness. It doesn't mean it has to be a physical object, just whatever person/thing/idea that the individual is faithful to.

Hope that helps!

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