« on: September 30, 2007, 11:48:19 PM »
The local Barnes & Noble had an entire shelf of LSAT prep books (e.g., Arco 30 Days to the LSAT: Teacher-Tested Strategies and Techniques for Scoring High, The PowerScore LSAT Logic Game Bible, 10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests, 10 More Actual Official LSAT PrepTests), and I bought four of them. I schlepped the books to the store’s café, plopped the pile on the table and began at the beginning.
The maddeningly upbeat Barron’s LSAT book kicked things off with a keyed up “Good Luck!!!” I’d need every one of those three motivational exclamation points to get me through the study guide’s 700 pages of tips, tricks, and sample exams. Barron’s LSAT classified LSAT problems into categories like “Inferences and Implications” and “Parallel Reasoning or Similarity of Logic.” Princeton Review’s Cracking The LSAT problem categories sounded much less scientific (i.e., “Weaken” and “Flaw”), as did the following instruction:
Suppose you wished to support the following conclusion of an argument:
Driving stupidly is permitted.
Given two forms of answer choices—blah blah blah is permitted if versus blah blah blah is permitted only if—it’s clear that only the first will do.
If Barron’s informal punctuation and Princeton Review’s casual tone lulled me into a false sense of confidence, it didn’t last long—Kaplan saw to that. Kaplan’s LSAT 180 began, “We should warn you up front: This book is not for the faint of heart.” Kaplan wasn’t messing around; going through Kaplan’s LSAT 180 was like altitude training; the problems were way harder than any that would be on a real LSAT exam. Here’s an example:
There are those, Mr. Hobbes foremost among them, who maintain that before any positive laws were instituted, there could be no distinction between the good and the evil, the just and the unjust. In the state of nature, each had the “right” to lop off the head of any other. This frightening situation prompted those in a state of nature to form a social body and enact positive laws that forbid murder. It was only with the formation of these laws that good and evil were born; and it was only as a result of these laws that murder could be termed evil. This description is inaccurate. If murder was deemed so unfit and unreasonable an act that men entered into contracts to preserve themselves, then murder must have been understood as unfit and unreasonable before such contracts were formed. This being the case, these thinkers’ supposition that there is neither “good” nor “evil” antecedent to the institution of law is self-defeating: If the distinction between good and evil is once admitted to exist, then it has always.
The author intends to discredit the view of Mr. Hobbes and similar thinkers by attempting to:
(A) present historical evidence in support of his view
(B) show that their argument contains circular reasoning
(C) show that their account of the origin of morality presupposes a contradiction
(D) point out the unacceptable consequences of their view on mortality
(E) impugn the motives of these thinkers themselves, rather than dealing with their argument.
All but the last of those answer choices sounded good to me. I felt comfortable making arguments for each of them. But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing; as a lawyer, I’d have to make arguments on behalf of whoever walked through my door. So wasn’t it then a testament to my professional capabilities that I felt equally comfortable defending the correct and incorrect answer choices?