To be great, an artwork must express a deep emotion, such as sorrow or love. But an artwork cannot express an emotion...

Alejandra on December 22, 2019


Can be must be true include outside information the way this one does?

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Shunhe on January 11, 2020

Hi @Alejandra,

Thanks for the question! Generally speaking, the only “outside information” you’ll need on the LSAT is common knowledge, like what a computer is or what an emotion is. Beyond common knowledge, though, we won’t need any outside knowledge. Inference questions are no exception—we can infer the answer choice directly from the stimulus, and here’s how.

We’re told that if an artwork is great, it must express a deep emotion. Then, we’re told that an artwork can’t express an emotion the artwork’s creator is incapable of experiencing. Let’s diagram this out:

Artwork great —> Express deep emotion
Artwork’s creator can’t experience an emotion —> Artwork can’t express that emotion

Now, let’s take a look at the contrapositive of the first premise:

~Express deep emotion —> ~Artwork great (where “~” means not)

And so we can make a logical chain, where

Artwork’s creator can’t experience emotions —> Artwork can’t express emotions —> Artwork can’t be great

Because if a piece of art can’t express any emotions at all, then clearly, it can’t express deep emotions. This is essentially what (C) tells us, but it uses computers as an example, which might have thrown you off. What’s important is that the “thing” (in this case, a computer) is constructed as to be incapable of experiencing emotions, and so can’t create great artworks. This fits perfectly with the logical chain we created above. The artwork’s creator (the computer) can’t experience emotions, so any artwork it creates can’t express emotions, and so the artwork can’t be great. This comes directly from the prompt, and doesn’t require any outside information as long as you can understand the words. Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any further questions that you might have.

Ben on January 14, 2020

Hi Bingolawyer, thanks for the question.

I see that Shunhe posted a response, but it isn't appearing for some reason. I'm going to respond to this in case you are having the same issue as well.

I think what is potentially confusing about this Must Be True question is the introduction of computers in the correct answer choice.

However, the introduction of computers is not actually new information. The introduction of computers in this question only serves to trigger the conditions. Let's see what I'm talking about here.

The passage can be broken down as follows:

Great artwork - > Express deep emotion (Not express deep emotion - > Not great artwork)
Not capable of experiencing emotion - > Not capable express emotion (Express emotion - > Experience emotion)

Combining these two conditional statements, we can produce the following chain and its contrapositive:

Great artwork - > Express emotion - > experience emotion
Not experience emotion - > Not express emotion - > Not great artwork

So, as we see, the introduction of computers in the correct answer choice is to trigger the contrapositive of the longer chain.

This would mean that computers cannot experience emotion, they cannot express emotion, and as a result cannot produce great art. This all must be true, given the condition that computers cannot experience emotion.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope this was helpful!