LSAT 46 – Section 2 – Question 14

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT46 S2 Q14
Flaw or descriptive weakening +Flaw
+Easier 144.676 +SubsectionEasier

The question stem reads: The reasoning in the argument is flawed because of the argument… This is a Weaken question.

The author beings with context, saying that Roger Bacon is a 13-century scientist who is said to have made important optics discoveries. They also claim he preached both hands-on experimentation and not uncritically relying on the opinion of authority to his students. However, the author notes that Bacon would appeal to authority when it was expedient (beneficial) for Bacon's argumentation. So Mr. Bacon was a bit of a hypocrite. The author concludes that Bacon's scientific work must be disregarded because of his hypocritical behavior.

Immediately this jumps out as an ad hominem attack, using someone's character instead of their position. In this case, the author claims we should disregard Bacon's work. Why? Because, on the authors' account, Bacon had some unsavory personality traits. When we attack opponents' arguments or work, our argument needs to be directed at that argument or work. In this case, the author has only provided reasons to think Bacon is a hypocrite and no evidence to discredit the validity of Bacon's discoveries. If this were a sufficient assumption question, we would need a premise like Hypocritie -> disregard work on optics, to bridge the gap between Bacon's personality and his work.

Answer Choice (A) is wrong because the author does not presume the authority's opinion is incorrect. If we turn to the stimulus, the author has nothing to say about whether authority opinion is correct or incorrect.

Answer Choice (B) is incorrect because the author does not actually attack the fact that Bacon relied on authority opinion. The author attacks Bacon for saying one thing and doing another. The author might think that relying on authority opinion is an acceptable practice while still taking issue with Bacon's hypocrisy.

Answer Choice (C) is incorrect because the author does not use bacon remarks to his students to make an inference of Bacon's opinions. He uses Bacon's comments to infer that he is a hypocrite.

Answer Choice (D) is incorrect because the argument is based on Bacon's character - not on whether or not thirteenth-century science holds up well today. Additionally, (D) would not be a problem for the argument as it lends some (minor) credence to the conclusion that Bacon's work should be disregarded.

Correct Answer Choice (E) is our prephase. The author criticizes Bacon's character (the hypocrisy) in order to question his scientific findings (his work on optics).

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