This post is part of an ongoing series of question explanations for the LSAT. In this post, I explain LSAT PrepTest 54, Section 2, Question 2. If you are looking for a copy of PrepTest 54, check out my post on where to find LSAT PrepTests. If you already have a copy, keep it on hand as you read the explanation.
Question Type: Flaw
Let’s breakdown the argument:
1. The math department requests to be completely in charge of the course Statistics for the Social Sciences.
2. The math in the course never gets harder than high school-level.
3. The mere fact that some math is in a course does not mean that it needs to be taught by a math teacher.
3. Similarly, a course that approaches a subject’s history (like History of Psychology) would not require a historian to teach it.
4. Therefore, the math department’s request is unjustified.
At first, this looks like a great argument, but there’s a big problem with it. The conclusion claims that the math department’s request is unjustified, but the argument only addresses with one potential justification. In other words, the dean assumes that the only possible way that the math department could justify its request is by noting that the course has some math in it. But what if there’s another reason for letting the math department take charge? There are a ton of other possible justifications:
- What if a newly hired professor for the math department specializes in statistics and the social sciences?
- What if the math department has a surplus of professors while all other relevant departments cannot spare a professor for the course?
- What if the math department will receive additional funding if it takes charge of the course?
You might be objecting that we don’t know any of that information. And you are right! I’m just making up possible reasons. But so is the dean. And that’s the point. We don’t know what the math department’s justification is for the request. So, simply destroying one possible reason is not enough to actually rebut the request. After all, the dean may be rebutting a justification never put forth by the math department.
Let’s take a look at the answers.
Answer A: The dean never claims that math professors couldn’t teach the course well. The dean only claims that the math department isn’t entitled to teach the course just because it has math in it.
Answer B: Correct! This is exactly what I explained above.
Answer C: The dean never mentions any students or presumes anything about them.
Answer D: This is a true statement; the dean doesn’t establish that math professors can’t teach the course effectively. But the dean does not need to make this point; it’s possible that the department’s request is unjustified even though mathematics professors can teach the course effectively. Thus, it isn’t a flaw not to bring this point up.
Answer E: This presumption simply is not made by the argument. Nothing the dean said implies this statement.