June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q23, an anthropologist on eating animals

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project The anthropologist plays it safe in her conclusion. "That conclusion [that taboos against eating certain animals came from practical considerations] is unwarranted," she claims. She doesn't say "you're wrong about practical considerations, this is what really causes animal-eating taboos," instead she just said "well, what about this?" Nor does she say "taboos did not arise from practical considerations." All she says is "your conclusion is unwarranted," i.e. "I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying you haven't proven your case."

Maybe it's an argument that only an LSAT teacher could love, but I do love it. Ninety percent of the arguments presented on the LSAT go way beyond what's justified by those arguments' facts. This one doesn't, and that's a refreshing change of pace.

We're asked simply, "in the argument, the anthropologist," which indicates that the correct answer will describe a Strategy of Argumentation used by the speaker. I'm going to pick a conservative answer, since the anthropologist was very conservative. Anything too strong or speculative will be easy to eliminate.

A. I like this one. The anthropologist didn't "disprove an explanation," she only "called an explanation into question." And she did propose an alternative explanation: "symbolic, ritualistic reasons." This could very well be our answer.

B. You can stop reading this one after the very first word. "Establishes" means "proves." The anthropologist didn't prove, or even try to prove, anything at all. No way.

C. You can stop reading this one after the first word as well. "Rejects" means "claims false." Remember, the anthropologist didn't say "some researchers are wrong"... she only said their beliefs are "unwarranted."

D. No. The anthropologist didn't say "it must not have been practical reasons, because people actually did preserve animals for non-practical reasons." Rather, she said "you haven't proven it's practical reasons, because it might have been other reasons." A is still leader in the clubhouse, and there's a strong wind blowing across the 18th green. E will have to make birdie, or else A wins.

E. No, the anthropologist didn't say "these things caused the taboo against eating animals, but they happened in a different order." Rather, she said "maybe the taboo came from something else entirely." This one is out of contention, leaving A our winner.

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--nathan

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