LSAT 90 – Section 2 – Question 08

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT90 S2 Q08
Most strongly supported +MSS
Fill in the blank +Fill
+Easiest 146.031 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Fill in the Blank question.

The stimulus provides additional information about what we’re supposed to fill the blank in with. We’re looking for a conclusion. The blank sits in a sentence structured with the word “since.” “Since something, blank.” The “something” is the premise and the “blank” is the conclusion. That means this is like a type of MSS question where information in the stimulus builds up to support a conclusion hiding in the answer choices.

The sociologist starts her argument by presenting OPA. The other people are anthropologists. They claim that cultures can most effectively respond to the threat of cultural decay by replacing or abandoning many of their traditions so that other traditions may endure. With the word “but,” the author switches from context to her argument. With the word “since,” she introduces her first and only premise that each tradition in a culture is essential to that culture's identity. Therefore, OPA’s strategy is… fill in the blank.

Before looking at the answers, we should have a general anticipation of where the argument is going. We can do this because the entire stimulus is building towards something. So we need to understand how OPA relates to the author's premise. What was OPA’s strategy again? It tells a culture attempting to stave off decay to replace its traditions with other traditions. But the author says each tradition is essential to a culture. What, then, does it mean to replace components that are essential to a culture?

Correct Answer Choice (B) tells us. It means that OPA's strategy will achieve the opposite of its intended effect. It will ensure the elimination of a culture rather than prevent its decay.

You might want to object that cultures could survive the elimination of their traditions even if each of its traditions is essential. But that misses the point. We're not actually trying to resolve the question of whether this argument commits a part-to-whole flaw. We're not actually trying to figure out whether a culture is more than just the collection of its traditions. Rather, we are only trying to understand the argument from the author's perspective. We are only trying to figure out where her premise is leading. So even if you don't think (B) provides a strongly supported conclusion by some absolute standard, you must recognize nonetheless that it most logically completes the argument. That’s a relative standard. Look at the other four answers and you’ll see that they are terrible.

Answer Choice (A) says OPA's strategy can save those cultures capable of reflecting on their customs and envisioning alternatives. This is wrong because it's pretty much the opposite of what the author actually wants to conclude. Were this the conclusion the author was trying to argue for, her premise would make no sense. Why point out that each tradition is essential to a culture? OPA just said that these traditions are to be eliminated. You’d do better to point out that these traditions are not essential.

Answer Choice (D) says OPA's strategy constitutes the most effective response to the threat of cultural decay. This is very similar to (A).

Answer Choice (E) says OPA's strategy can succeed if adopted by cultures whose traditions have been adopted only recently. First, this is in the wrong direction as we've already established with (A) and (D). The author isn't trying to argue that OPA's strategy is conducive to success. Second, there's nothing in the argument that suggests the timing of when a tradition was adopted is relevant. What is the important difference between a recent tradition versus an ancient tradition? Nothing, as far as the stimulus is concerned.

Answer Choice (C) says OPA's strategy can be implemented by all and only those cultures studied by anthropologists. This is a bizarre claim in and of itself. This claim acts like there's something special about being studied by anthropologists. Like if a culture was ignored by anthropologists then it's limited in what it can do for itself, whereas if a culture was noticed by anthropologists then the strategies it can implement expand. That's weird. You would think that what a culture can or cannot do doesn't depend at all on whether it's being studied by anthropologists.

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