LSAT 93 – Section 2 – Question 15

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT93 S2 Q15
Most strongly supported +MSS
Fill in the blank +Fill
+Medium 143.482 +SubsectionEasier
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Which one of the following most logically completes the argument?

This is a Fill in the Blank Question, with the sub-type Main Conclusion-Most Strongly Supported. We know this because the blank in the stimulus appears in the second half of a sentence where the first half begins with “since.” The “since” indicates that the first half of the sentence is supposed to provide support for the second half.

We start off with a fact about “mass production techniques”:

The introduction of mass production in modern industrial economies allowed the owners of industries to lower prices because they could employ fewer workers, many of whom required little training.

This tells us about a causal chain. Let’s make sure we get the causes and effects straight. Mass production techniques (perhaps like the factory assembly line, or use of machinery to produce things) allowed owners to use fewer workers, many with little training. This led to lower prices.

Lower prices allowed workers to buy goods that they previously would not have been able to afford.

The lower prices let workers buy stuff they wouldn’t have been able to afford. The overall relationship looks like this so far:

mass production techniques –caused→ use fewer-less-trained workers –caused→ lower prices –caused→ workers can buy stuff they wouldn’t have been able to

So far, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal for the workers. Now we get to the last sentence, which begins with the transition word, “But”:

But since jobs for workers with little training are more vulnerable to elimination than those for more highly trained workers, ________.

The first half of this statement tells us that jobs for those with little training are more likely to be eliminated than those for more highly trained workers. A manual laborer’s job is more likely to be eliminated than a nuclear physicist’s, for example. Ah, that’s the catch. There’s benefit (can buy more stuff) but there’s also risk (can lose your job).

The second half is the blank we’re trying to fill. We can tell that the blank should be related to the point that workers with little training are more vulnerable to elimination of their jobs, since that’s the point that appears right after the “since.” Beyond that, I’m not sure we can have any more precise prediction. Let’s head into the answers.

Answer Choice (A) highly trained workers have more purchasing power in modern industrial economies than workers who are less trained

(A) is attractive because it’s probably true. In general, highly trained workers probably do have more purchasing power than less trained workers. But that misses the point entirely. The question stem isn’t asking us to identify a true claim. It’s asking us to identify a claim that is supported by the stimulus. (A) is unsupported. While (A) does compare two groups mentioned in stimulus, it compares them on the wrong quality. From the stimulus, we can infer that the highly trained workers probably have better job security than the less trained workers. But which group has more purchasing power? The stimulus is silent. It would be unreasonable to infer that the highly trained workers have more purchasing power simply because they have better job security. Many other factors influence purchasing power, the most obvious of which is wages, something that the stimulus never mentioned.

Answer Choice (B) the introduction of mass production techniques has decreased benefits for workers as it has increased the profits for owners of industries

Like (A), (B) is trying to bait you based on what you might think is true in real life. We all know the familiar narrative that factories and mass production have helped the greedy business owners, while hurting the little people who are working in the factories. But the stimulus never said anything about loss of “benefits” or increased profits. We do know that many workers have jobs that are vulnerable to elimination, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in benefits. Do they have fewer vacation days? Fewer sick days? Worse health insurance? Worse parental leave? We just don’t know.

And as for profits to business owners, we also don’t know that. They’ve been able to lower prices, but that doesn’t necessarily mean increased profits. Profits are a function of the overall revenue earned by a company minus the costs. Lower prices don’t tell us about revenue or about costs.

Answer Choice (C) even the highest paid employees in modern industrial economies are never able to achieve job security

We don’t know about the group of “highest paid employees.” (C) is trying to get you to think that the workers who are highly trained are highly paid; but the stimulus doesn’t say anything that suggests this. We also can’t say that there’s anyone who is “never able to achieve job security.” Maybe there are certain very highly skilled workers who do have job security? We just don’t know.

Correct Answer Choice (D) a source of increased purchasing power for workers in modern industrial economies also undermines their job security

There’s enough in the stimulus to provide support for (D). This answer is testing whether we can keep track of a causal chain.

Think back to the chain set forth by the stimulus. Mass production techniques were the source of the employer’s ability to hire fewer workers, many with little training. This led to lower prices that allowed workers to buy stuff they couldn’t otherwise buy. So the mass production techniques are a source of “increased purchasing power” for workers – they have the power to buy more stuff. Good for them.

But, those mass production techniques are also something that undermines job security for workers. First, it allows companies to hire fewer workers, which means many existing workers might not be around for long, since companies won’t need as many of them. In addition, mass production techniques also mean that many workers who end up remaining will have little training, which the stimulus tells us leaves those workers more vulnerable to having their jobs eliminated.

Answer Choice (E) the percentage of workers who can afford to purchase goods produced by modern industrial techniques is shrinking

We know that mass production techniques have allowed many workers to buy more stuff. But nothing in the stimulus suggests that the percentage of workers who can buy more stuff is now going down. Sure, many workers might lose their jobs, but we don’t have any reason to think that the number of workers who lose their jobs is more than the number of workers who can now buy stuff that they couldn’t.

In any case, we don’t even know that losing one’s job means you can’t afford the goods – there could be a lot of inexpensive goods that are still affordable. And, on top of that, (E) refers to goods “produced by modern industrial techniques.” The stimulus never mentioned that the goods were produced by the modern industrial techniques. It only said that the goods would be sold for lower prices, which made them purchasable by workers. Whether the lower prices are due to the modern techniques, or whether the lower prices are due to the fact owners didn’t need to hire as many people is something we don’t know.

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