LSAT 23 – Section 3 – Question 21

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT23 S3 Q21
Main conclusion or main point +MC
+Harder 150.588 +SubsectionHarder

Kevin’s explanation

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The main conclusion drawn in Helen's argument is that

We’re looking for the Main Conclusion of Helen’s argument.

Helen is the morally upstanding sibling in her family. She begins her argument:

It was wrong of my brother Mark to tell our mother that... blah blah blah

Don’t just keep reading the super long sentence. Stop to register 3 things: (1) We’re about to get what Mark told his mom, (2) Helen says Mark was wrong to tell their mom what he told her, (3) there is a high chance that the value judgment that Mark was “wrong” is the conclusion.

Now let’s keep reading.

...the reason he had missed her birthday party the evening before was that he had been in a traffic accident and that by the time he was released from the hospital emergency room the party was long over.

Apparently, Mark missed their mom’s birthday party and told her that it was because he got into a traffic accident. Helen says Mark was wrong to tell their mom that. Why was it wrong?

Saying something that is false can never be other than morally wrong, and there had been no such accident – Mark had simply forgotten all about the party.

In this line, Helen does two things. First, she gives us a moral rule she’s using regarding what’s wrong – saying something false is wrong. Second, she gives us the fact that shows what Mark said was false. He just forgot about their mom’s party – there was no accident.

That makes sense – Mark said something false, and saying something false is wrong. Thus, the conclusion of the argument is what we were thinking from the first sentence: Mark was wrong to tell their mom what he told her.

Answer Choice (A) Mark did not tell his mother the truth

This is supported by the stimulus, but it’s not the conclusion. The conclusion is Helen’s judgment about what Mark said. If you think that (A) is the conclusion, ask yourself what the role is played by the claim that Mark was wrong. It would seem to have no place in your conception of the argument. That should cause you to ask whether you have the right framing.

Answer Choice (B) the real reason Mark missed his mother’s birthday party was that he had forgotten all about it

This is a true statement – it comes from the last part of the last sentence. But this is not the conclusion. Helen doesn’t give us another statement that is supposed to prove that he had forgotten about the party. She simply states as a fact that he forgot. That means it’s not a conclusion.

Answer Choice (C) it is wrong to attempt to avoid blame for one’s failure to do something by claiming that one was prevented from doing that thing by events outside one’s control

This starts off OK, but the thing (C) is calling wrong isn’t what we were looking for. Helen’s conclusion was about a specific situation - what Mark said. This answer is about the more general idea of avoiding blame for failure to do something based on events outside one’s control. That’s not the specific situation Helen was talking about.

Correct Answer Choice (D) it was wrong of Mark to tell his mother that he had missed her birthday party as a result of having been in a traffic accident

This is a restatement of the first sentence. It leaves out some of the details (such as the fact Mark said he went to the hospital emergency room), but that’s OK, since those details weren’t important. The point of what Mark said was that he couldn’t make it to the birthday party; Helen’s conclusion is that what Mark said was wrong.

Answer Choice (E) it is always wrong not to tell the truth

This is supported by the beginning part of the last sentence. But that was offered as support for the conclusion in the first sentence.

If you thought (E) was the conclusion, you are either confused about your task or about the structure of the stimulus. Our task is to identify the conclusion that the author actually gave us, not simply to pick an answer the author agrees with.

If you were confused about the structure of the stimulus, and thought that the line beginning with “Saying something that is false can never be…” was the conclusion, then you should get into the habit of asking, “Why should I believe that?” For anything you think is the conclusion, you should be able to point to a statement that is offered as support. Here, Helen doesn’t give us anything to help prove that it’s wrong to say something false. She simply states that as a moral principle, without justifying why we should follow it. That means it’s not the conclusion.

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