Mary, a veterinary student, has been assigned an experiment in mammalian physiology that would require her to take a ...

@chris_va on August 29, 2019


Can someone please walk through this question? It seems like there are several possible choices. And there didn't seem to be evidence to support the correct answer choice.

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Victoria on August 29, 2019

Hi @@chris_va,

Happy to help!

This is a "Principle" question, so we are looking for the answer choice which outlines a principle that underlies the stimulus.

The stimulus tells us that Mary has decided not to do her mammalian physiology assignment.

Why? Because the assignment "would require her to take a healthy, anesthetized dog and subject it to a drastic blood loss in order to observe the physiological consequences of shock" and because "the dog would neither regain consciousness nor survive the experiment."

So, what is the principle underlying Mary's decision? That we should not take an animal's life without a strong justification for doing so.

Let's go through the answer choices.

Answer choice A seems tempting, however, the key word is "gratuitously." The experiment would not require Mary to gratuitously cause the dog to suffer as the dog is anesthetized and would lose consciousness from the blood loss. In this way, steps have been taken to minimize the dog's pain and the experiment relies on one action which would cause the dog to lose consciousness before passing away.

Answer choice C is incorrect because there are numerous other sufficient justifications for experimenting on animals which may have been considered in Mary's decision. For example, we do not know if Mary believes that it is justified to experiment on animals if future human suffering is prevented.

Answer choice D is incorrect because Mary is not a practicing veterinarian; she is a veterinary student.

Answer choice E is incorrect because the sole intention of the experiment was not to cause the death of a living thing. The goal of the experiment was to "observe the physiological consequences of shock."

This leaves us with answer choice B. This is the strongest answer choice as, while it is similar to C, it provides us with a wider range of justifications for animal experimentation. As none of these justifications underlie the experiment, it makes sense that this principle would inform Mary's decision not to participate.

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

@chris_va on August 29, 2019

I appreciate the help! I am still struggling with how E is not correct, maybe I am getting to into the weeds with it. I couldn't extract any sense of justifiable reason. Furthermore, If you engage in doing something, knowing the outcome of that action can't you conclude that this evidence of intent? She may not have wanted to cause that animal to die, but if the choice was made to carry it out, it seems like that is pretty much hand and hand with intent. What am I missing here? Thanks again, sorry for getting so bogged down with this question, it just seemed so easy, but turned out to be quite the opposite.

Victoria on August 29, 2019

Hi @@chris_va

No worries at all! Please don't apologize! We are here to help you with your learning and try to prepare you as much as possible for success on the LSAT.

The key word to focus on in answer choice E is "sole." As the goal of the experiment is to "observe the physiological consequences of shock," it cannot be true that the sole intention of the action is to cause death. Therefore, the action would be justified because the sole intention is not to cause death; this intention exists simultaneously with the intention to observe the physiological consequences of shock. This cannot be the principle underlying Mary's decision because it contradicts her decision.

My advice would be to try not to get stuck too long on individual questions. As the scenarios and information presented in each question are different, it is more important that you understand the patterns that appear on the LSAT and how to attack each question type as opposed to each individual question.

That being said, we are always happy to help explain any individual questions that you get stuck on! Keep up the good work!

schicago on July 11, 2020

In answer choice B, how can we know that this procedure would not "immediately assist in saving several animal lives or in protecting the health of a person"? What if those physiological responses had a potential and great benefit?

Victoria on September 16, 2020

Hi @schicago,

Happy to help!

The key word here is "immediately." We know that the dog will not survive the experiment and there is nothing in the stimulus to suggest that a human or several animals will immediately be helped. We only know that Mary will observe the physiological consequences and then the dog will die.

It is possible that this information may eventually help save lives, but there is no information in the stimulus to suggest that this effect will be an immediate result of the experiment and we cannot assume this.

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

Andrew on April 25, 2021

Can you please explain why A is wrong? I don't understand why B is correct because it brings in the information that is not mentioned in the stimulus. For answer choice A, it mentions, "gratuitously." Doesn't gratuitously mean "without good reason?" I don't see how causing a dog to die for the sake of physiology a good reason.

DevinFuller on June 9 at 08:00PM

Im struggling with B myself. I suppose we must consider that word "immediately" as the key word in helping us choose it for the sake of the latter part of the statement? It seems like a stretch to me but the last part of the statement is what turned me off to answer choice B as I see nothing in the stimulus at all supporting it. This test is making my head spin at times. Is it normal to have this type of answer when the question stem asks for "most closely accords"?

Emil-Kunkin on June 11 at 11:01PM

Hi, for this question we are looking for a general rule that seems to what Mary was following, or in other words, a principle that supports Mary's decision.

A is incorrect since, weirdly, I don't think they actually cause pain in the experiment, although it is fatal. We also would be stretched to call it gratuitous since it is in the interest of training as a vet.

B sets up a rule that would clearly justify Mary's reasoning. It tells us that the only way that killing is justified it if it immediately saves other animals or protects people. Since the experiment does not immediately protect anyone (and the connection to eventually saving other animals is less that obvious, although it does seem reasonable to think that it the experiment may make her a better vet in the long term.) the experiment fails to meet the bar that was setup by B, so B would justify her decision not to participate.

Emil-Kunkin on June 11 at 11:02PM

To your second question, I would more or less treat this as a strengthen question since we are trying to find a general rule that it seems Mary was following.