LSAT 14 – Section 4 – Question 04

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT14 S4 Q04
Weaken +Weak
+Easiest 148.739 +SubsectionMedium
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This is a weakening question, since we are asked: Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

This stimulus is relatively straightforward. We are first told that a portion of economically useful raw materials are both nonrenewable and in limited supply on Earth. So we can’t make more of these resources and we don’t have such a big supply that we would never run out. Following this premise we get a sentence beginning with the conclusion indicator therefore and the conditional indicator unless. If we translate this conditional conclusion, we should end up with something along the lines of: no materials can be obtained outside earth → unable to accomplish what is now accomplished with those materials (referential phrase: the useful, non-renewable, and limited supply materials).

When we are faced with a weakening question involving a standard argument, we should always consider if the argument relies on a large assumption. In this case, we are concluding that if we can’t find more of these materials, we won’t be able to do what we use them for right now. The major assumption here is that these materials are required for what we do with them. For example, just because we currently use gas to produce electricity doesn’t mean that gas is required to produce electricity. An easy way to weaken this argument is to explicitly state that these materials aren’t required, and could be replaced with alternatives. We should be on the lookout for an answer choice that does this. Let’s see what we get:

Answer Choice (A) The argument we are trying to weaken is about the portion of economically useful materials which aren’t renewable. Even if there are renewable resources, unless they are viable alternatives to our non-renewables, we don’t care about them.

Answer Choice (B) This answer choice just suggests that the conditional conclusion of our argument will be triggered, since it is hard to get resources outside of earth. This does nothing to weaken or even strengthen the argument.

Correct Answer Choice (C) This contradicts the assumption we identified in the stimulus. If these limited nonrenewable resources can be replaced with alternatives, then even if we can’t find more of them we can still keep doing what we are doing with them. In short, this says the resources aren’t required, which is exactly what the argument assumes they are.

Answer Choice (D) Who cares? The argument we are trying to weaken has a conditional conclusion; it makes a prediction about what will happen in a particular case. The worthiness of what the resources are being used for is irrelevant to whether it will be impossible to continue should they run out.

Answer Choice (E) This answer fills in one of the assumptions the argument makes; that we will ever run out of these resources just because there is a limited supply of them. For that reason, if anything, all this answer does is strengthen what we want to weaken.

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