"Confuse" / "Fails to Distinguish" / "Inconsistent"

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WaltGrace83
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"Confuse" / "Fails to Distinguish" / "Inconsistent"

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:39 pm

I posted this in the Manhattan forums but I also thought that others would be able to benefit/have more insight...

This may sound like an incredibly rudimentary question but I think it will help with sifting through answer choices. "Confuse" and "Fails to distinguish" pop up a lot in LR answer choices and I want to have a better understanding of what these words actually mean in LSAT land.

When we see something like "the author confuses X with Y" or the "author fails to distinguish between X and Y," do we take this as the author literally not being able to tell X from Y? I will give two examples and see what you guys think:

Confuse
PT30-S2-Q13

Planning Board says that businesses are leaving at a rate of 4/week
+
There were never more than 1,000 businesses in the region, so if they were leaving at such a rate then they would have all been gone by now
-->
The Planning Boards "recent estimate" of 4/week is exaggerated

(B) says that the argument "confuses" the claim about "rate of change" with "absolute size."

Now I could take this to be that the author is basically saying that a "rate of change" = "absolute size"? I am confused by this (probably because its the wrong answer :D ) but either way I just want to know what is going on here.

Fails to Distinguish
Similarly, we have PT33-S3-Q15

Scientists want to reverse damage to ozone
+
Single trip by spacecraft does as much harm to ozone as one year's pollution by factories
-->
Since the factory pollution is unjustified so is the trip by spacecraft

(C) says that the argument "fails to distinguish" the goal of "reversing harmful effects" from "preventing those harmful effects." See this looks good because maybe the critic, getting confused with trying to reverse the damage to the ozone layer, thought that the whole point was to prevent damage to the ozone layer. Therefore, I gave this answer choice a lot more thought than I probably should have.

I hope that all makes sense and I hope that this question helps everyone!

Inconsistent
I am going to add "inconsistent" to this list too. All too often we get answer choices that are about "conclusions that are inconsistent" with a "premise." Obviously, all the assumption Q's on the LSAT are flawed so, in a way, aren't these questions all inconsistent?

I found a question with this...PT34-S2-Q3, answer choice (B).

Well of course the conclusion is "inconsistent" with the premises! The premises don't necessarily lead to the conclusion!




Thanks everyone

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swampman
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Re: "Confuse" / "Fails to Distinguish" / "Inconsistent"

Postby swampman » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:49 pm

Both mean that the argument assumed x=y when really x≠y. In practice I think you understand the terms perfectly, those answers are wrong because they don't address the actual logical flaws in the arguments.


"Inconsistent" means conflicts with or violates. A conclusion can be consistent with one or all premises but not follow logically from them, ie:

-All marbles are blue
-Tom has something blue
----> Tom has a marble

The conclusion is not inconsistent with any premise (it doesn't violate them in any way, and it may actually be true), but it does not logically follow from the premises and thus is not a valid argument.

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WaltGrace83
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Re: "Confuse" / "Fails to Distinguish" / "Inconsistent"

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:50 pm

So an "inconsistent" argument would go something like this (I am remembering an LSAT argument off of the top of my head)

The increase in voters was fivefold from 1990 to 2000
+
The increase in voters was fivefold from 2000 to 2010
-->
It is wrong to say that there were more voters in 2010 than 2000

This is "inconsistent" because, when taking the premises as true, it makes the conclusion impossible?

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swampman
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Re: "Confuse" / "Fails to Distinguish" / "Inconsistent"

Postby swampman » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:26 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:So an "inconsistent" argument would go something like this (I am remembering an LSAT argument off of the top of my head)

The increase in voters was fivefold from 1990 to 2000
+
The increase in voters was fivefold from 2000 to 2010
-->
It is wrong to say that there were more voters in 2010 than 2000

This is "inconsistent" because, when taking the premises as true, it makes the conclusion impossible?


Right, the conclusion is inconsistent with the second premise (the first is irrelevant). Either voters increased fivefold from 2000 to 2010, or (to rephrase the conclusion) there were not more voters in 2010 than in 2000. Both cannot be true.

It is very important to remember, though, that just because an argument is logically consistent does not mean the conclusion is valid.




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