LSAT 90 – Section 2 – Question 09

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT90 S2 Q09
Argument part +AP
+Medium 146.031 +SubsectionMedium

This is an AP question.

We’re asked to describe the role played by the statement that “the purpose of a law is to deter certain actions by threatening to punish those performing the actions.

That appears as the first sentence in the stimulus. So that’s what the purpose of a law is. It’s to deter via threat of punishment. The next sentence reveals a potential weakness in the form of a necessary condition. In order for deterrence to work via threat of punishment, potential violators must believe that they’re likely to be punished. Is that a problem? Do potential violators believe that they’re likely to be punished? The next sentence says that the likelihood that someone will be punished decreases as the number of types of prohibited actions increases. That could be a problem. The more prohibitions we have, the less likely that someone will be caught and punished for violating the prohibitions. So the more prohibitions we have, the less likely potential violators will believe that they’ll be punished. But that would risk undermining the deterrence purpose of a law.

The argument could have established that as its conclusion. It could have given a clear statement to crystalize the problem: the more prohibitions we have, the less likely we are to have a successful legal system.

But the argument actually reaches a different kind of conclusion. It reaches a conclusion about how to prevent that problem from arising. Thus it concludes that a successful legal system (one that achieves its deterrence purpose) prohibits only those few behaviors that citizens find absolutely intolerable. In other words, keep the number of prohibitions small so as to avoid the problem outlined above.

So, what’s the role played by stating that the purpose of a law is deterrence? It’s to support the argument’s conclusion by laying out what it means for a legal system to be successful. It has to achieve its purpose of deterrence via threat of punishment. It’s a premise.

That’s what Correct Answer Choice (C) says.

Answer Choice (A) is correct in claiming that it offers support, but it’s incorrect in identifying the target of that support. There’s no implicit conclusion about the necessity of police officers.

Answer Choice (B) says it’s the conclusion of the argument and that’s incorrect.

Answer Choice (D) says it’s an intermediate conclusion. But in order to be an intermediate conclusion, the claim must receive some support. This claim receives no support.

Answer Choice (E) says it’s a view that the argument is designed to discredit. But that’s not true. The argument uses this view to reach its main conclusion.

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