June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q12, I sincerely apologize

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project After reading the first sentence, I almost started diagramming this one. I actually got out a pencil, and hovered it over the page. But then I read the rest of the argument, and put the damn pencil away. Diagramming on Logical Reasoning is dangerous. That's because you're either writing down every single word (in which case, what's the point of the diagram, cause the words are already on the page), or you're abstracting the words, like changing "apology" into "A" and "wronged" into "W."

The problem with the abstractions is that they get confusing really fast. The second sentence says "apologize sincerely." So did your "A" from the first sentence mean "apologize"? Or did it mean "apologize sincerely"? The fourth sentence makes it even worse, by introducing "accept an apology sincerely." Is this "A"? Or "AA"? Or "AAS"? If the next sentence were to say "accept a sincere apology sincerely," would you then need an "ASAS"? Are you picking up what I'm laying down? Diagrams scare me.

So instead of making a diagram, I just read all four sentences and tried to understand them as best I could. It's a bunch of definitions... here's what "apology" means, here's what "sincere apology means," and here's what "accept an apology means." After finishing reading the passage, I'm like "OK, but who gives a fuck." There's no conclusion here... the author doesn't seem to have a point. It's just a bunch of facts about apologies. I'm bored.

The question stem says "the statements above, if true, most strongly support which one of the following," which means all I have to do is pick an answer that has been proven true (ideally) by the given facts. If I can't find something that has been proven true, then I'll settle for the one that has been most strongly suggested by the given facts.

A. Tricky, but no. If you intend not to re-commit an offense, you can sincerely apologize. The fact that you actually re-offend doesn't go back in time and negate your apology. The rule we were given was about your state of mind at the time of apology.

B. Nope. The standard for sincerely accepting an apology had nothing to do with whether the given apology was sincere.

C. No, this is backward. We know that if you're going to give an apology, it should only be for committing a wrongful act, and only to the person who you have wronged. But that doesn't mean that we should apologize to those we have wronged... only that we should not apologize to those we have not wronged. I imagine that this was a tough answer choice to get past for a lot of students. Avoiding it involves a fairly sophisticated understanding of the Necessary and Sufficient conditions. You also have to avoid imposing your own system of morality: Most of us do believe that we should apologize when we have wronged someone; this question isn't asking us about our own beliefs, it's asking us to apply solely the given statement.

D. Nope. The rules say that you can't accept an apology if you intend to hold a grudge. But that has no bearing on the sincerity of the offeror. If you intend to hold a grudge then you can't sincerely accept, but the apology can be sincerely offered.

E. As I arrive at this answer, I remind myself that even though I dismissed A-D, I still need to critically evaluate E. It's tempting to start rooting for an answer, but I'm going to do my best to remain fully skeptical until I am sure that I have arrived at the correct answer. That said, after reading E I am sure it is the correct answer. The rules do say that you can't offer, or accept, an apology unless you acknowledge that a wrong has been committed. So our answer is E.

 

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--nathan

About me: I'm  the owner of Fox LSAT and FoxTestPrep.com. Please email me at fox.edit@gmail.com, call me at 415-518-0630, Tweet me @nfoxcheck out my books here, and watch 15 hours of free LSAT classes here.

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project