LSAT 16 – Section 3 – Question 03

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT16 S3 Q03
Necessary assumption +NA
+Easiest 0 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Necessary Assumption question which we know because the question stem is indicating the correct answer is required. If Bart’s argument is going to work, then the correct answer must be true. Or said another way, if the correct answer is not true, then Bart’s argument will fail completely.

So, our argument starts with what seems like context. A supercomputer solved a math problem that had gone unsolved for centuries. Okay, that’s really cool, but what about it? Well, the supercomputing process to solve the problem is so mind-bendingly complicated that it’s beyond the comprehension of literally everyone. No one actually fully understands the computer’s process. Ok, sure, but why is the result necessarily unacceptable just because of that? This feels like the conclusion because it has given us a reason for why we should accept this claim as true. It’s not a very well developed argument. We’re drawing our conclusion from just a single premise: “No one understands the computer’s process. Therefore, the result is unacceptable.”

There’s a huge gaping hole in this argument. Structurally, this argument is just:

Because A,

therefore B.

Well, you can’t just say “A therefore B.” However intuitively related our terms may seem, this argument is structurally terrible. We haven’t established any logical connection between our premise and conclusion. It may be a bad argument, but it makes our job easy. We’re almost certainly going to be seeing an answer that ties A and B together. Specifically, an “if A then B” answer would always be a winner here. This is a bit tricky, though, because “if A then B” would not just be necessary but also sufficient. Sometimes, you can get an answer that is both, though, and this specific argument structure is one where we see this a lot. Remember that the question is asking about what’s necessary for the argument as a whole, not just for what’s necessary for the conclusion. So while the conclusion by itself does not require an “if A then B” premise, the argument does because “the argument” refers to both the premises and conclusion. That is why this sufficient assumption will also be absolutely necessary here.

So, we’re expecting an “if A then B” sort of answer that should say something to the effect of “if no one can wrap their head around the computer’s process, then the result is unacceptable.”

Answer Choice (A) No, this doesn’t have to be true. It’s unacceptable because we don’t understand what the super computer did, not because it was the computer that solved it. If we could understand how the computer solved it, I don’t see any reason why Bart would have a problem with this.

Correct Answer Choice (B) Correct. This is exactly what we should have been expecting. Someone has to understand what happened for the result to be acceptable. If no one understands it, the result is unacceptable. That’s our “if A, then B.”

Answer Choice (C) Just like with answer choice A, this really just doesn’t matter. Our only premise is that no human understands what the computer did to solve it. That reason alone is why the result is unacceptable. So all the supercomputers in the world can solve this thing if they want, the result would still be unacceptable (according to Bart) if no human could figure out what they’re doing and how they’re deriving the solution.

Answer Choice (D) Maybe a less complex result would be insufficient to solve it. Or maybe a less complex solution is still too complex for humans to understand. Who knows. Whatever the case, this just doesn’t have to be the case.

Answer Choice (E) Well this one is interesting. According to Bart, it certainly hasn’t. But that is not to say it can’t. Maybe there is another way the computer could process the problem that would be possible for someone to figure out. This possibility is certainly not precluded because Bart’s conclusion is only addressing this one, specific result. That allows for different conclusions concerning different results.

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