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smiley111

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diagramming question
« on: May 16, 2010, 02:13:02 PM »
Hi All--I was wondering if we can diagram associations into if, then statements

for example can I diagram "a high level of cholesterol in the blood is associated with an increased risk of heart disease" into

+C ----> +H

Thanks guys

Jeffort

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Re: diagramming question
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2010, 04:20:56 AM »
Hi All--I was wondering if we can diagram associations into if, then statements

for example can I diagram "a high level of cholesterol in the blood is associated with an increased risk of heart disease" into

+C ----> +H

Thanks guys

Technically you can diagram it as you did, which can be restated as "If one has a high level of cholesterol in the blood, then they have an increased risk of heart disease."

However, for LSAT purposes, things can get a little dicey/confusing when doing that with premises that establish an association/correlation rather than a straight up conditional premise like A only if B. 

An association is the same as a correlation and such relationships are presented and used in LSAT questions designed to test you about causal/cause and effect reasoning much more than they are presented to test you about conditional - sufficient and necessary logic. 

The risk of diagramming correlations as S/N conditionals is that many people mistakenly think that the sufficient condition CAUSES the necessary condition (because it is on the left side of the right pointing arrow), when in fact it may not have.  The cause and effect relationship (if there really is one) may be the reverse, the association may be coincidental, or the two correlating elements may both be effects of some other cause they have in common.

Cause and effect reasoning, as tested on the LSAT, mainly revolves around analyzing and thinking about alternate causes, situations of cause without effect or effect without cause, etc.  LSAT questions designed to test conditional reasoning skills are not typically about causation.  That is simply a recurring pattern of the test.  When you see a correlation presented, analyze the question from C/E perspective rather than S/N perspective and the credited answer choice will likely be based on C/E reasoning rather than typical S/N arrow diagrams.   

Even though C/E logic and S/N logic are different types of reasoning, there is some overlap between them, which is what creates a lot of confusion for many students before they are able to differentiate them and clearly understand that the sufficient condition in a S/N relationship is NOT NECESSARILY the cause of the necessary condition.