LSAT 11 – Section 4 – Question 08

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT11 S4 Q08
Main conclusion or main point +MC
+Easiest 149.098 +SubsectionMedium

The question stem says “The main point of the argument is that…” so we know it must be a main conclusion question. We are looking for the claim that is most supported, or made more likely to be true, by the other claims in the argument.

First, we hear about a claim that is a “scientifically well-established fact.” Smells like context or background information to me, serving to make sure we are all on the same page going into the argument. The fact that smoking cigarettes over a long period of time can lead to intense health complications is accepted and rooted in empirical evidence. Okay, cool. How does the argument build off of this?

We leap into the next sentence guided by the phrase “contrary to what many people seem to believe.” This wording sets up a structural shift or contrast, further cemented with the “however.” At this point I’m really wondering if our conclusion is going to follow, as I have seen a shift like this act as an introduction to our main point before. The claim follows, wrapped up in a convoluted sentence ridden with double––no, triple––negatives. Let’s digest it bite by bite. The first sentence fragment states, “It is not necessary to deny this fact.” Vague referential language again. Which fact? A quick scan leaves us with no other option than the “well-established” fact above, so that fragment can be rephrased as “one doesn’t have to claim that cigarettes do not lead to these health problems,” or even more bluntly, “you don’t have to think cigarettes aren’t bad for you...” The second half of the sentence, beginning with “in order to reject the view that,” can be rephrased as “in order to claim tobacco companies should not be responsible for poor smoker health.” Let’s combine and rephrase again: you don’t have to think cigarettes are fine for your health to agree that tobacco companies shouldn’t be blamed when smokers fall ill. Ah, now I see where this argument is going. This claim is a strong contender for our main conclusion due to the indicator words (and that we have no reason thus far to believe otherwise), but we need support. If the next sentence makes it more likely that this one is true, we’ve got our winner.

Ooh! An analogy! I was kind of bored before, but now I’m paying more attention. The author is setting up a similar situation in which a substance (candy) that is detrimental to one’s health in the long run, but the big difference between candy and cigarettes here is apparently that “no one” really thinks candy addicts should have the right to sue candy companies for tooth decay. Eh, I can come up with a few holes to poke in this argument right away, but that’s not my job for this question. I’m only concerned with the role played by each claim here, and it would not follow that this last sentence is the main conclusion. We already determined that it’s an analogy meant to set up a comparison, and it demonstrates a supposed inconsistency in the logic of the argument this author sets out to disprove. In other words, the argument follows as such: the fact that smoking is bad for you isn’t enough on its own to say that tobacco companies should be morally or legally responsible for smoking-related health issues, in the same sense that candy being bad for you isn’t enough to claim that candy companies should have similar responsibilities for their over-consumers’ health complications.

Recap: where was the main conclusion? Well, if we don’t have to go as far as to say cigarettes are good for you to believe that tobacco companies aren’t at fault when smokers get sick, and if we would never make the same claim about candy manufacturers even though candy is proven to be unhealthy in excess, then accepting the proven fact that cigarettes are bad isn’t sufficient on its own to be able to say tobacco companies should be liable for Grandma’s 3-pack-a-day cough. All I did was rephrase the argument––each of those “ifs” in my rephrase are more clearly premises that made the conclusion more likely to be true: that we can’t sue tobacco companies just because smoking kills. I’m looking for a rephrase of this in my correct AC, and I’m going to identify if each AC is stated in the argument and if it’s the main conclusion––check both boxes and, bingo, we’ve got our pick!

Answer Choice (A) Eh, no, I don’t even think this was stated or implied by the argument. I see what they did here by throwing in a lot of buzzwords we recognize from the argument, but I’m not so easily tricked. Never was it stated that “no one should feel it necessary” to claim smoking isn’t bad for health. Instead, we just know that it isn’t necessary to claim smoking isn’t bad for health in order to agree that tobacco companies aren’t at fault. Nuanced difference, but completely changes the implied meaning.

Answer Choice (B) This was kind of stated in our argument, but isn’t the main conclusion. It references the final line of the stimulus, where the author posits that “no one seriously believes” that candy eaters should get to sue candy manufacturers. So, it was a piece of the analogy that serves as support for the main conclusion.

Correct Answer Choice (C) Wait, yes. This matches our paraphrase, which was difficult to get to, but must be the main conclusion! In other words, the fact that smoking is bad for you isn’t enough on its own to say smokers can sue tobacco companies. No qualms here, it's both stated (although not word-for-word) in the argument, and it expresses the author’s main idea. We know exactly why the author wants us to believe this (because who would hold candy companies legally responsible in that way?), so it’s supported.

Answer Choice (D) Was this stated? Nope. This AC goes way too far and there isn’t anywhere in the argument I can point to that communicates this idea. The only comparison we make between candy and cigarettes is that they are both bad for your health, but we don’t know how likely each is to lead to health problems.

Answer Choice (E) Tempting, but absolutely not. Test takers may gravitate towards this AC because it mentions buzzwords from the argument and talks about the comparison between candy and cigarettes and holding the respective corporations accountable. However, is this actually stated in the argument? No. Maybe the author would agree with this, but that’s not even what our job is to figure out. We want to find what was both stated in the argument and is the author’s main point.

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