LSAT 92 – Section 1 – Question 22

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT92 S1 Q22
Necessary assumption +NA
+Medium 147.037 +SubsectionMedium

This is an NA question.

The argument requires us to connect two concepts that both show up in the premises.

We start with the premise that the set of historical figures that we find most engaging have the following attributes: they are mostly without moral virtue but they are brave and they are courageous.

Then, we get a conclusion indicator, "thus.” Thus, moral virtue is not among the characteristics that we most admire. Does that follow? The premise is about historical figures that we find most engaging (no moral virtue) and the conclusion is about figures that we most admire (no moral virtue). The “no moral virtue” concept is already connected between the premise and the conclusion so no gaps there. But the other two attributes better have something to do with each other. Specifically, the figures that we find most engaging better be the ones that we most admire. That’s supplying a premise-to-conclusion bridge and it’s something we often see in NA (and SA) questions.

Here, it’s a bit more complicated because we actually have another premise, as introduced by the word “since.” The people whose lives we would most like to live are those whose characteristics we admire most. This premise does link up to the idea of “most admire” in the conclusion, yet it’s entirely missing the idea of “no moral virtue.” So both the first and the second premises have something to offer and yet each is lacking something as well.

With the second premise, the conceptual gap that we need to fill has moved. We no longer need to bridge the first premise, “most engaging,” to the conclusion because the second premise, “most like to live,” connects to the conclusion already. Now the gap is between the first and the second premise. What does “most engaging” have to do with “most like to live”? There’s the new gap.

That is what Correct Answer Choice (A) provides. (A) says the historical figures that we find most engaging are the ones whose lives we would most like to live. That’s the premise-to-premise bridge that we need. And this bridge is required. Imagine if we didn't have it. It's not true that the historical figures who we find most engaging are the ones whose lives we would most like to live. If that were the case, then the first premise is severed from the conclusion. It has no way to support the conclusion anymore. The second premise cannot support the conclusion on its own since it says nothing about virtue. The argument thus falls apart.

Answer Choice (B) says bravery and creativity are characteristics that make it more difficult to be morally virtuous. That’s a claim about a causal relationship. We don't need to assume it. In fact, we don't need to assume any causal relationship between bravery and lack of virtue or creativity and lack of virtue.

Imagine if we negated this. Bravery and creativity don't make it harder to be morally virtuous. What would that mean? That would mean either they make it easier to be morally virtuous or they have no impact on moral virtuousness. Either way is fine for the argument.

Answer Choice (C) says historical figures are very rarely morally virtuous. This is not required. The argument is not concerned with the entire set of historical figures. Rather, it’s only concerned with a subset of the historical figures whom we find most engaging. What (C) has to say about the larger superset doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change the characteristics of the subset. The most engaging historical figures are still mostly not morally virtuous, yet are brave and creative.

Answer Choice (D) says people develop their conception of what makes an individual admirable based on what they know about historical figures. Interesting. This is not required. This has nothing to do with the argument. According to (D), you and I (people) develop our conception of what makes a person admirable based on what we know about historical figures. Like who? Maybe Genghis Khan, maybe Jesus, maybe whoever.

But who cares? I'm sure this is partially true as a description of my psychology. But that’s where (D) lives. It doesn’t live in the space of bridging the argument’s first premise to its second premise.

Answer Choice (E) says moral virtue is the characteristic of historical figures that we find least engaging. No, we don't need to assume that. Just like how we didn’t care about (B)’s claim about the causal relationship between bravery and moral virtue, we don't care about (E)’s claim about the ranking of what attributes of historical figures we find most and least engaging. (E) says that whatever the reason is that you find historical figures engaging, whether it's their bravery or creativity or whatever it is, virtue ranks at the bottom. And that has to be true. No, that doesn't have to be true. In fact, it's demonstrably false because the argument already conceded, at least for a minority of the historical figures we find the most engaging, that they are morally virtuous. Why do we find Martin Luther King to be engaging? I mean, he had a sexy voice so I get why he was so popular with the ladies, but surely moral virtue does not rank last on that list.

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