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Some theorists argue that literary critics should strive to be value-n

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Some theorists argue that literary critics should strive to be value-n  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jul 2018, 08:30
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A
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D
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Difficulty:

  95% (hard)

Question Stats:

26% (02:01) correct 74% (02:20) wrong based on 270 sessions

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Some theorists argue that literary critics should strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism. These theorists maintain that by exposing the meaning of literary works without evaluating them, critics will enable readers to make their own judgments about the works' merits. But literary criticism cannot be completely value-neutral. Thus, some theorists are mistaken about what is an appropriate goal for literary criticism.

The argument's conclusion follows logically if which one of the following is assumed?

(A) Any critic who is able to help readers make their own judgments about literary works' merits should strive to produce value-neutral criticism.
(B) If it is impossible to produce completely value-neutral literary criticism, then critics should not even try to be value-neutral.
(C) Critics are more likely to provide criticisms of the works they like than to provide criticisms of the works they dislike.
(D) The less readers understand the meaning of a literary work, the less capable they will be of evaluating that work's merits.
(E) Critics who try to avoid rendering value judgments about the works they consider tend to influence readers' judgments less than other critics do.

Source: LSAT

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Some theorists argue that literary critics should strive to be value-n  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jul 2018, 22:00
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Complete Question Explanation

Justify the Conclusion (sufficient assumption)—SN. The correct answer choice is (B)

The stimulus in this question is deceptively wordy, and it conceals a very simple argument. The stimulus begins with the “some people say” rhetorical device, in which the author introduces the theorists’ argument, with which the author disagrees. In this case, the theorists’ position is that “literary critics should strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism.”

In the second sentence, the author expands on this argument. The theorists believe that literary critics can help readers reach their own conclusions about a literary work if the critics expose the readers to those works without providing them a critical evaluation of the works.

None of this, however, is the stimulus author’s argument. That argument begins in the third sentence, with the premise that “literary criticism cannot be completely value-neutral.” Because of this, the author concludes that “some theorists are mistaken about what is an appropriate goal for literary criticism.”

To fully address this conclusion, we have to refer back to the first sentence, in which the author told us what “some theorists argue.” With that context in mind, the author’s conclusion is that literary critics should not strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism. All together, the argument is that critics should not strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism because literary criticism cannot be value-neutral.

As stated at the outset, this is a very simple argument. An apparent weakness in the argument is that the conclusion refers to what “should” or “should not” be done, implying the application of some principle. However, the sole premise did not contain a principle. Rather, it gave only a statement of fact.

The question stem identifies this as a Justify the Conclusion question. Our prephrase is that the correct answer choice will provide a principle that proves the conclusion is valid. To review, the argument contained one premise and one conclusion:

Premise: literary criticism cannot be value-neutral
Conclusion: critics should not strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism

To prove that the conclusion is valid, with no gray area, the correct answer will say in absolute terms that if literary criticism cannot be value-neutral, then critics should not strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism. As you may have noticed, our prephrase is expressed as a conditional relationship, which we can diagram as:

LCVN = literary criticism cannot be value-neutral
SVN = critics should not strive to be value-neutral in their literary criticism

..... ..... ..... Sufficient ..... ..... Necessary

..... ..... ..... LCVN ..... --> ..... SVN

Our prephrase is worded in absolute terms because a Justify the Conclusion answer choice is sufficient to prove the conclusion is valid. That level of impact on the conclusion requires a definitively worded answer choice. When, as here, an argument has only one premise offered in support of the conclusion, the author is treating that premise as being sufficient to prove the conclusion is valid. Our prephrase makes explicit that relationship between the sole premise and the conclusion.

Answer choice (A): Recall that the author’s argument actually began with the third sentence in the stimulus, and had nothing to do with helping readers. So, this answer choice is irrelevant to the conclusion.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, because it restates the conditional relationship from our prephrase, using synonymous language to produce the same effect.

Answer choice (C): This comparison between works that literary critics like and those they do not like is irrelevant to the conclusion, which had nothing to do with which works literary critics were more likely to critique.

Answer choice (D): Maintaining a proper focus on the distinction between the theorist’ argument and the stimulus author’s shorter argument makes getting rid of this answer choice an easy task. The author’s argument had absolutely nothing to do with the ability of the reader to understand the literary work.

Answer choice (E): As with answer choice (D), the author’s argument had nothing to do with the readers of literary works.
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Re: Some theorists argue that literary critics should strive to be value-n  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Aug 2018, 00:26
Question Type:
Sufficient Assumption

Stimulus Breakdown:
At first glance this argument might not seem too complex. We have an argument made by "some theorists," followed by the word "but," which leads us into the main argument. The main argument is contained in the last two sentences.

Premise:
Literary criticism cannot be value-neutral.

Conclusion:
Some theorists have a mistaken idea about the appropriate goal for literary criticism.

The challenge lies in understanding what exactly is the "appropriate goal" mentioned in the conclusion. We know, from the first sentence, that some theorists believe that critics should strive to present value-neutral criticism. This is the goal being discussed by the theorists. The second sentence explains why the theorists believe this should be a goal. Our conclusion is that this is not an appropriate goal—meaning literary critics should not strive to present value-neutral criticism.

Answer Anticipation:
Even with this understanding of the conclusion, the gap in the argument might not be obvious. The key is to recognize that the conclusion is about whether something should or should not be done. Even if we accept the premise that literary criticism cannot be value-neutral, do we have to accept that literary critics shouldn't strive toward that goal? You might believe that no one can tell the truth 100% of the time, but that still might be a very worthwhile goal to strive for. We're looking for an assumption that states this isn't the case: if it's impossible to be value-neutral, there's no reason to attempt to be.

Correct Answer:
(B)

Answer Choice Analysis:
(A) This at best does the opposite of what we need. This supports the theorists' view, that literary criticism should be value-neutral. We're trying to conclude that the theorists are mistaken.

(B) This is correct. It tells us that if the premise is true—that literary criticism cannot be value-neutral—then critics should not try to be that way.

(C) This is out of scope. A comparison between works that critics like and works that they don't is not relevant.

(D) This is also out of scope, as it doesn't address the core of the argument. We need an answer which directly supports the conclusion that critics should not attempt to be value neutral. Choice (D) doesn't do that.

(E) This answer, like the last two, is out of scope. We aren't trying to conclude that some critics influence readers less than others.

Takeaway/Pattern: When a conclusion uses "borrowed language," meaning it refers back to something discussed earlier in the stimulus, take time to understand this connection and the precise claim being made in the conclusion.
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Re: Some theorists argue that literary critics should strive to be value-n &nbs [#permalink] 08 Aug 2018, 00:26
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