LSAT 15 – Section 3 – Question 04

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT15 S3 Q04
Main conclusion or main point +MC
+Easier 147.463 +SubsectionMedium

We know this is a main conclusion question due to the question stem, “The main point of the argument above is that…

The stimulus opens by introducing a commonly held view, and then making a claim about it. We learn that it is often expressed that written constitutions (ones that exist on paper) are intrinsically “more liberal” than unwritten ones. Furthermore, the author is claiming this belief is false. Now it’s our job to figure out if this claim ends up supporting or being supported by any other claims in this argument. If it’s supported by the other claim or claims, then we’ve got our conclusion!

We learn some new information in the second sentence––a definition of written constitutions that tells us these are simply pieces of paper bearing words until the interpretation and application of those words actually happens. What is the relationship between this sentence and the previous one? Well, it wouldn’t make sense if the claim that written constitutions are no more liberal than unwritten ones was supposed to support the claim that written constitutions are effectively meaningless until applied. Instead, the second claim might support the first by explaining the lack of inherent difference between written and unwritten constitutions. Therefore, I’m going to go ahead say that the first claim could be our conclusion, and the second is a premise. Let’s keep reading to confirm this prediction.

The word “then” helps us understand that the claim in this third sentences builds off of the previous claim. Apparently, when one has the correct understanding of constitutions, one knows that they are effectively the combination of the actual procedures that exercise, and limit, the government’s power. Okay, so if this is our working definition of all constitutions within this stimulus, and we just learned that written constitutions are nothing more than words on a paper if they lack interpretation and application, it looks like those procedures are what actually adds meaning and value to a constitution. If I were to predict how the author might connect all of these sentences together, I might be thinking that these procedures, the ways the state truly exercises their power, are what gives constitutions liberal (or nonliberal) qualities. Let’s see!

Our prediction is confirmed! “Therefore” tells us that, based on the previous claims, we can understand that a liberal-mannered interpretation and application is absolutely necessary in order for even written constitutions to be deemed liberal ones. Now I can see how the author took us from point A to B to C here, which all lend support to our first sentence, or make it more likely to be true. Written constitutions aren’t much but words without interpretation and application, and a constitution is the sum of how these words are applied to expand and limit state power. So, it’s the liberal application and interpretation that makes a constitution liberal, not just the fact that its written rather than unwritten. Knowing all of this makes us much more likely to accept the claim in the first sentence, that written constitutions aren’t any more liberal than unwritten ones, just by merit of being written down. So, that first claim is supported by the rest, making it our conclusion! Let’s look for a rephrase of it in our AC’s.

Correct Answer Choice (A) Awesome. I can’t find anything wrong with this, as it ever so slightly rephrases the conclusion of the stimulus that we identified as the first sentence.

Answer Choice (B) It looks like this AC uses a lot of buzzwords from the stimulus with the aim of throwing us off, but we are two steps ahead of the test writers and we see right through this. Nowhere did the author claim that written constitutions by nature contradict themselves, not even as a premise.

Answer Choice (C) Again, we have no idea if this is even true after reading the stimulus. The author gave us no information that would help evaluate how likely these two types of constitutions are to be misinterpreted.

Answer Choice (D) Preservation of constitutions? Never mentioned, definitely not the conclusion. Next!

Answer Choice (E) None of these ACs, save A, are even close to our prediction nor do they line up with non-conclusion parts of the argument. We have no idea if there are any criteria for evaluating how a constitution is interpreted and applied, just that being written does not necessarily mean a constitution is liberal.

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