LSAT 16 – Section 3 – Question 20

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT16 S3 Q20
Method of reasoning or descriptive +Method
+Medium 0 +SubsectionMedium

Here we have a Method of Reasoning question, which we know from the question stem: “James responds to Maria’s argument by…”

After correctly identifying the question type we can use structural analysis to describe the Method of Reasoning used by our speaker.

Immediately we should note we have two speakers in our stimulus. That means we need to be on the lookout for two conclusions and two sets of explanations. Our first speaker, Maria, begins by introducing her conclusion; calling a state totalitarian is misleading. Already we can identify that Maria takes issue with the application of this definition. The reasoning she presents is that no government can truly express total control of every aspect of life. From this we can see the definition Maria approves when it comes to totalitarian regimes. To use the word totalitarian, she expects that country to have total control. Makes sense enough. But is it possible there is another definition of totalitarianism that would make the label accurate?

This question is answered by our second speaker. James widens the interpretation of the term totalitarian. In contrast to Maria, he tells us a totalitarian system is one that tries to control most aspects of society. Just because the government does not succeed in taking total control does not reflect that they really did at least try to seize that control. By doing this we know James is introducing a new possible definition of totalitarianism.

Knowing that our correct answer choice will highlight the way James alters the definition used by Maria, we can jump into answer choice elimination.

Answer Choice (A) This answer choice is incorrect because it focuses on inconsistencies. This answer claims John points out contradictory information in Maria’s argument. We can eliminate this answer choice knowing that John responds by bringing his own interpretation of an important term into the mix.

Answer Choice (B) This answer does not line up with the argument John presents. Instead of providing an explanation of the political conditions as claimed by this answer choice, the second speaker presents us with a different explanation of the definition itself.

Answer Choice (C) By claiming that James “rejects evidence,” this answer choice accuses the second speaker disagrees with one or more of the premises introduced by Maria. But John does not disagree with what Maria has claimed - degree of control is inevitably partial rather than total. It’s the interpretation of the definition that John takes issue with in Maria’s argument. For this reason we can eliminate the answer choice.

Correct Answer Choice (D) This is exactly what we are looking for! This is the only answer choice that correctly indicates that James questions Maria’s position by concluding a different definitions applies to the term totalitarian.

Answer Choice (E) Our second speaker concludes their own definition using considerations not introduced by our first speaker. Instead of explaining that Maria’s premises lead to a different conclusion, James presents new information to support his own position on the definition of totalitarian.

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