June 2007 LSAT, Sec 3, Q. 24

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HarveyBirdman
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June 2007 LSAT, Sec 3, Q. 24

Postby HarveyBirdman » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:31 pm

edit: since this test is available for free on lsac's web site anyway, I'm assuming it's ok to post question in its entirety here...

I feel retarded because the correct answer for this one is one of the choices I eliminated thinking there was no way it was that. I've read and reread everything several times now and still don't see it. Any help is appreciated.

24. Sociologist: Romantics who claim that people are not born evil but may be made evil by the imperfect institutions that they form cannot be right, for they misunderstand the causal relationship between people and their institutions. After all, institutions are merely collections of people.

Which one of the following principles, if valid, would most help to justify the sociologist's argument?

A. People acting together in institutions can do more good or evil than can people acting individually.

B. Institutions formed by people are inevitably imperfect.

C. People should not be overly optimistic in their view of individual human beings.

D. A society's institutions are the surest gauge of that society's values.

E. The whole does not determine the properties of the things that compose it.



Personally I was torn between B and D, leaning more towards D. The correct answer is E. But how the hell does that support his argument? That seems to say the exact opposite of what he is saying...

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gggrra
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Re: June 2007 LSAT, Sec 3, Q. 24

Postby gggrra » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:05 pm

First, it's helpful to identify the conclusion which is pretty easy to spot: the claim that people are not born evil and people are made evil by imperfect institutions is incorrect, or people could be born evil and are not made evil by imperfect institutions. After that, he supports his conclusion with the assertion that the relationship seems to be the opposite; he seems to almost be saying that institutions are evil (if they are so) because they are made of evil people.

I'll only address B and D since you seemed to have eliminated A and C.
D is incorrect because the stimulus doesn't really talk about society's values.
B might be a little trickier to eliminate, but the fact that institutions are inevitably imperfect doesn't really force the sociologist's argument to be true (which is basically what you want to do in a justify question). It could still be true that the inevitably imperfect institution can still make a person evil, and that they are inevitably imperfect for some other reason (besides the fact that it is made up of evil people).

Why E is correct: The whole (institution) does not determine the properties (evil) of the things (people) that compose it. This completely refutes the romantics' claim that the whole (institution) may determine the properties (evil) of the things (people) that compose it. This answer choice basically forces the sociologist's claim to be true.

Generally when I see that a question relates parts to a whole, I tend to keep answers that address the idea of parts to the whole as "contenders", even if the relationship is not immediately clear.

Hope my writing is not too unclear; pretty tired from a long day.

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HarveyBirdman
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Re: June 2007 LSAT, Sec 3, Q. 24

Postby HarveyBirdman » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:18 pm

Ha ha...it just clicked after I read your post and reread the question. Man this shit is hard. For some reason I was thinking, in regards to E, that the sociologist is saying evil people --> evil institutions. And then saying having an evil institution does not mean the people in it are evil...well now I've just confused myself again.




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