June 2007 LSAT, III, #18

If I could teach you just one thing about the LSAT, it would be this: These arguments are sooooo stupid. Stop believing everything you read! Listen to this nonsense, from Section 3, Question 18 of the June 2007 LSAT: Editorialist: In all cultures, it is almost universally accepted that one has a moral duty to prevent members of one's family from being harmed. Thus, few would deny that if a person is known by the person's parents to be falsely accused of a crime, it would be morally right for the parents to hide the accused from the police. Hence, it is also likely to be widely accepted that it is sometimes morally right to obstruct the police in their work.

Are you effin kidding me?

The argument goes from "moral duty to prevent members of one's family from being harmed" to "hide the accused from the police" and "obstruct the police in their work." Jesus Christ! Why don't they just go the next step, to "abduct a highway patrolman" and "plant a bomb at City Hall"?

If you recognize how extreme the argument is, you're on the right track. If you say to yourself "hmmm... might there be other ways to protect my family members, that don't include obstructing the police?" you're getting even closer. Hell, I haven't even looked at the question yet, but I'm pretty sure we've answered it, whatever it may be, just based on arguing with the speaker. Let's see:

The reasoning in the editorialist's argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that this argument

Shouldn't be too tough. This question is asking us to identify a flaw inherent in the argument. I think the answer is going to be something like "makes a huge leap from protecting family members to obstructing the police." Now, on to the answer choices.

(A) utilizes a single type of example for the purpose of justifying a broad generalization

This would be the answer if the argument had said "Jews in Nazi Germany were justified hiding family members from the police, therefore all families are justified hiding family members from the police." But that's not what it said.

(B) fails to consider the possibility that other moral principles would be widely recognized as overriding any obligation to protect a family member from harm

OK, maybe. It's not exactly what I predicted, but it's at least on the right track. This one can be read to mean "sure, you have an obligation to your family... but you might also have an obligation not to obstruct the police." I like it.

(C) presumes, without providing justification, that allowing the police to arrest an innocent person assists rather than obstructs justice

Justice? Who said anything about justice? Furthermore, the argument seemed to be in favor of obstructing the police, not allowing police to arrest someone. This answer is backward at best, and irrelevant (because of "justice") at worst. No way.

(D) takes for granted that there is no moral obligation to obey the law

The law? Who said anything about the law? This answer, like C, seems outside the scope of the argument. And anyway, even if D were true, it wouldn't devastate the argument. It's possible that you DO have a moral obligation to obey the law, but the moral obligation to protect your family could override all other moral obligations. Or, maybe the law says it's OK to hide a falsely-accused family member from the police.  (Probably not, but it's possible since "the law" was never discussed in the argument.)

(E) takes for granted that the parents mentioned in the example are not mistaken about their child's innocence

Nah. The argument was theoretical. It said "IF" a person is known... to be falsely accused. The "IF" means that we can fairly assume, for the sake of argumentation, that the person was actually innocent. So the objection "they might be mistaken" is irrelevant.

Our answer is B, because it's the best expression of the outrage we felt after reading the ridiculous argument.