LSAT 92 – Section 1 – Question 09

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT92 S1 Q09
Sufficient assumption +SA
+Harder 147.037 +SubsectionMedium

This is an SA question.

The stimulus begins a premise that defines “practical intelligence” as “the ability to discover means to ends.” Next, another premise places “practical intelligence” as a member in the set of “skills” and “skills” do not develop on their own.

Now we get a conditional conclusion. If there’s a being that was never deprived of anything and was always and immediately given what it wanted, then that being could never possess “practical intelligence.”

Clearly, there’s a missing link. What is it?

This argument doesn’t translate neatly into conditional logic. But at a high level, you know the conclusion is arguing for this being not having practical intelligence. On the basis of what? On the basis of what this being is and on the basis of what practical intelligence is. The premises tell us that practical intelligence is a skill, and more specifically, it’s a skill to discover means to ends. So that’s an opening. And all we know about the being is that it’s never deprived of anything and gets whatever it wants immediately. These two ideas already connect together. Together, it means that this being is never in need of practical intelligence. Why not? Because think about what practical intelligence is. It’s the ability to discover means to ends. But this being always and immediately gets whatever it wants. Therefore, it’s never in need of discovering means to ends. Does that mean it will never possess the ability to discover means to ends? In other words, is it true that if it doesn’t need practical intelligence, then it won’t have practical intelligence?

Correct Answer Choice (B) says it’s true. It says that skills are acquired only if they are needed. Contrapositive: if skills are not needed, then they are not acquired. Kick the idea of “skills” up into the domain. We know practical intelligence is a skill and so this rule applies to practical intelligence. If it’s not needed, then it won’t be acquired. The premises trigger the sufficient condition. Therefore, we can draw the necessary condition as the conclusion.

Answer Choice (A) is a conditional constructed using “without.” Translated, (A) says that acquiring a skill requires the help of others. But the problem here is that the premises don’t trigger the failure of the necessary condition. The premises don’t amount to other beings not helping this being. In fact, if we take seriously the claim that this being gets whatever it wants, then as soon as it wants others to help it, others will help it.

Answer Choice (C) talks about the best way to acquire practical intelligence. But that implies there are other ways. So at best, this precludes the being in the argument from the best way of acquiring practical intelligence. That doesn’t preclude all ways.

Answer Choice (D) talks about a being that is already practically intelligent and how it gets what it wants. We don’t care. We’re trying to make an argument that this being cannot be a being that is practically intelligent. Telling us about beings that are already practically intelligent doesn’t help.

Answer Choice (E) talks about a being that is always deprived of what it wants. At this point, we can eliminate this answer. The premises fail this sufficient condition. Our being is never deprived of what it wants. Failing the sufficient condition renders this rule irrelevant.

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