LSAT 92 – Section 1 – Question 20

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT92 S1 Q20
Flaw or descriptive weakening +Flaw
+Harder 147.037 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Flaw/Descriptive Weakening question.

The argument opens with OPA. Mr. Klemke argues that the complaints made against his company are unfounded. That’s his conclusion (OPC). His premises (OPP) are that the complainants are biased because they disagree with his political views.

Let’s pause there and analyze OPA. Is the reasoning strong? No. It’s a classic source attack. And that’s exactly what the author recognizes and calls out in her next sentence. She says that the complainants can be mistreated by Mr. Klemke’s company regardless of their political views. That’s true. That’s why Mr. Klemke’s argument is flawed.

The author, however, proceeds to draw her own flawed conclusion. She should have simply concluded that “Mr. Klemke has failed to prove that the complaints are unfounded.” That means we don’t know if the complaints are founded or unfounded. We only know that Mr. Klemke failed to make a case for their being unfounded.

What did she actually conclude? That “the complaints are not unfounded.” That means the complaints are substantiated. But they haven’t been substantiated. There’s no evidence at all that pertains to whether these complaints are true or false.

This is a classic flaw that conflates weakening an argument with proving the conclusion of said argument to be false. Weakening an argument erodes the support between the premise and the conclusion. It is engaged at an abstract level with the argument. If you want to show that the statement in the conclusion is false, then you have to descend to the ground level of what the argument is talking about: whose house and what roof and what date was the service provided and what went wrong, etc. You’d have to bring facts (premises) to bear on those issues if you want to prove the complaints are founded or unfounded. That’s very different from the premises the author actually offers which lives one level above these issues.

This is what Correct Answer Choice (B) points out. It says that the argument concludes that a claim (the complaints are unfounded) is false (they’re not unfounded) on the grounds that an inadequate argument has been given for it (Mr. Klemke’s source attack argument is inadequate).

Answer Choice (A) says that the argument takes a consequence of someone’s being biased to be a cause of the bias. (A) charged the argument with confusing cause and effect. But the argument doesn’t do that. What is “a consequence of someone’s being biased”? According to Mr. Klemke, it causes the person to lodge false accusations at his company. According to the author, nothing. What is “a cause of the bias”? According to Mr. Klemke, having political views different from his own. According to the author, nothing. So according to (A), the argument, that is, the author’s argument confused nothing with nothing. Even if we take (A) to be describing Mr. Klemke’s argument, which we shouldn’t because that’s not the argument in question, but just as an exercise, even if we do, (A) is still descriptively inaccurate. Mr. Klemke didn’t confuse a person lodging false accusations at his company with a person having political views.

Answer Choice (C) says that the argument rejects an argument on the grounds that the person who offered the argument (Mr. Klemke) is baised. (C) fails to accurately describe both the premise and the conclusion. The author never claimed that Mr. Klemke is biased. Mr. Klemke accused someone else of being biased. So the premise descriptor is false. The conclusion should have rejected an argument because that would have been the right move. But, as we discussed, it actually rejected Mr. Klemke’s conclusion. So the conclusion descriptor is false as well.

Answer Choice (D) says that the argument relies on a sample of opinions (false, the author’s premise does not rely on a sample of opinions) that is unlikely to represent diverse political outlooks.

Answer Choice (E) says that the argument overlooks the possibility that people whose views diverge are unaware of their disagreement. It’s unclear whether the argument overlooks this but it doesn’t matter because this has nothing to do with why the argument is flawed. Mr. Klemke is a person whose (political) views are different from his dissatisfied customers. Mr. Klemke is clearly aware of this divergence in views. It’s unclear whether his customers are aware.

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