Sociologist:  Romantics who claim that people are not born evil but may be made evil by the imperfect institutions th...

antigonus on June 18, 2019

thrown for a loop

this one really is confusing me, as I don't see the connection between institutions effects on people and institutions not being defined by the people in them. any help would be appreciated, though I suspect I may just be too used to the argument to not be reading more into it than the question is actually giving

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Victoria on June 19, 2019

Hi @antigonus

I find that question stems where you have a deeper understanding of the subject matter are actually tougher to answer as it is hard to simply read the arguments at face level. Try to shut that part of your brain off when practicing for the LSAT and focus only on the words on the page without attributing anything further to them that may be informed by your own background knowledge.

For now, let's go through this question together.

The sociologist is arguing that romantics who claim that people are not born evil but may be made evil by the imperfect institutions they form are wrong.

Why are they wrong? The sociologist claims that these romantics misunderstand the causal relationship between people and their institutions because institutions are merely collections of people.

Overall, the sociologist is claiming that institutions cannot change people because institutions are formed of people.

We are looking for the general principle that, if valid, most helps to justify this argument.

Answers A, B, C, and D are incorrect because they are irrelevant to the sociologist's argument.

A is incorrect because whether people acting together in institutions have more of an impact than people acting individually or not has no bearing on whether institutions can change people.

B is incorrect because it does not matter whether institutions formed by people are inevitably imperfect or not as this does not affect their capacity to change people.

C is incorrect because people's views of individual human beings and their relative level of optimism have nothing to do with the argument presented in the passage.

D is incorrect because the sociologist is not discussing societal values. They are focused on the impacts that institutions can have on people, not on the broader values of society.

Finally, E is correct because it directly supports the sociologist's overall claim: that institutions cannot change people because institutions are collections of people. This is directly restated by answer choice E:

The whole (institutions) does not determine the properties (good/evil, etc.) of the things that compose it (people).

Hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.