LSAT 14 – Section 4 – Question 20

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT14 S4 Q20
Flaw or descriptive weakening +Flaw
+Harder 148.703 +SubsectionMedium

This is a flaw/descriptive weakening question, and we know this because of the question stem: “…reasoning is most vulnerable to which one of the following criticisms?”

Let’s take a look at the first sentence. Despite his usually poor appetite, Monroe enjoys three meals at Tip-Top but becomes sick after each meal. Immediately, this sounds like a correlation: the phenomenon of becoming sick occurring with the phenomenon of eating a Tip-Top.

The second sentence is pretty straightforward: it’s a list of each meal he ate at the restaurant. Interestingly, they’re all very large meals, especially for someone who generally has a “poor appetite,” and they all have a side of hot peppers. Both of these look like premises. They’re both statements of facts.

What does our conclusion say? Since all three meals had peppers (premise), Monroe concludes that he became ill solely due to Tip-Top’s hot peppers. Solely? Not only is he assuming causation, but it’s very restrictive. Sure, hot peppers may have contributed to feeling ill, but what about eating this kind of unhealthy food? What about eating this amount of food? What if he’s lactose and fried-food intolerant? The causal relationship he establishes is shaky because “solely” is an unwarranted restriction in the implied causation.

Answer Choice (A) It’s hard to establish whether or not it’s descriptively accurate because “too few” is pretty subjective. We sometimes know after one meal why we got sick. Additionally, he still got sick after each of these three meals, so there must be some reason he’s getting sick. But let’s just say it is accurate. Is this the flaw? No! This isn’t a sample size issue; it’s the restriction in the causal relationships that’s an issue. It could be that hot peppers partially contributed to him feeling ill, in which case 3 meals isn’t “too few.”

Answer Choice (B) This is not correct because it’s descriptively inaccurate. We know explicitly from the stimulus that he became ill after consuming each the meal (read first sentence).

Answer Choice (C) This is not descriptively accurate because, although he may want to continue dining at Tip-Top, there is no evidence of this biasing his conclusion. Also, if he wanted to continue eating at Tip-Top, it would make more sense for him to blame his illness on something outside Tip-Top’s control/menu.

Answer Choice (D) This is descriptively accurate, but it’s not the flaw. Just because hot peppers didn’t make everyone else sick, that doesn’t mean it cannot make Monroe sick. Other people’s reaction to the hot peppers is not relevant to the conclusion Monroe draws, and even if this was established, it would not strengthen Monroe’s position.

Correct Answer Choice (E) It demonstrates that his causal relationship is unwarranted by introducing an alternative cause, which we know is one of three ways to disprove a causal relationship.

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