June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q12, frivolous pharaohs

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Guest blogger: Rachel McCauley

So, question 12 involves some crazy talk about pharaohs.  The argument sounds complicated but really isn't too bad. Apparently pharaohs spent as much money on buildings or statues for ceremonies as they did on roads and irrigation.  That's not soooo bad, right? I mean, if I were a pharaoh I'd probably spend some big bucks making cool pyramids too.  According to the historian, this money isn't wasted because if people could realize their pharaoh's mastery then their loyalty wouldn't need to be maintained with a military.

Ok, so now that we understand the prompt, let's check the question. This is a Role Played in the Argument question. We have to identify what role the claim that the expenditure wasn't frivolous plays in the argument. The first thing I do in role questions is identify the conclusion. If the part I'm identifying doesn't sound like the conclusion, then I dig deeper to see if it is a premise or some other thing. In other words, fingers crossed that it's the conclusion. It seems to me that the conclusion of this argument is that the spending isn't a waste. That's phrase we are asked to identify.  So, I think that the “claim that early Egyptian expenditure on largely ceremonial architecture was not frivolous” is the conclusion of the argument. Hopefully there aren't two conclusion choices to decide between in the answers. Let's check those out now.

A. This looks like it to me. It's a conclusion, and its support is the realization of the people causing the lack of need for military coercion. The “psychological effects” thing sounds close enough to “realization of the extent of their ruler's mastery.” If that's not a psychological effect, then I'm really not sure what that is anyway. I am feeling good about this choice, and if there aren't other answer choices with the answer saying “it's a conclusion” then I think we are good to go.

B. No, we are not looking to show that they did in fact spend as much on architecture as they did on roads. The argument was about whether this spending was frivolous or not. Moving on.

C. Nope, the loyalty thing was supporting the argument that the spending wasn't frivolous, not the other way around.

D. Illustration of the principle? That's a fancy way of saying that they provided an example. No, this was not an example. We didn't hear about any specific pharaohs or anything.

E. Spending “scarce” resources, eh?  I don't think those pharaohs had scarce resources. That certainly wasn't in the prompt. I mean, those dudes built everything in gold, didn't they? And structures that “only have military utility”?  That means the structures were solely used for military purposes. Well, we were just told in the prompt that they were used for ceremonies, not for the military. That makes this a really bad choice.

So, I am choosing A. It matches my prediction, and when I went through the other answer choices I found them all to be incorrect.

From Rachel: I'm from Moraga, CA. I went to UC Santa Babara and graduated with honors as a double major in business economics and psychology in 2011. I'm passionate about access to education, and I currently volunteer as a mentor at East Bay College Fund, where I help low income students grapple with the demands of college, as many of them are the first of their families to attend. I currently work at a law firm in downtown San Francisco, where I get a little taste of my lawyer dreams. In my free time I enjoy baking, running, interior design, and random DIY projects that sometimes involve driving to a local lumber yard and picking out wood even though I don't know sh*t about wood. I just like building things. I'm also a super math nerd; I've been known to hang out doing math problems for fun, especially the puzzle kind on the GRE. My favorite part of the LSAT is figuring how to set up challenging games and mastering them.

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