Reviewer: Many historians claim, in their own treatment of subject matter, to be as little affected as any natural s...

hannahjoannelin on January 30, 2020


This question is very hard :( I think I consistently get these types of questions wrong because I don't know EXACTLY what phrases like takes for granted that, purports, misunderstands etc I was wondering if you could break down some of these common phrases in an easy to understand way? Thanks

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SamA on January 30, 2020

Hello @hannajoannelin,

As you continue to practice, you will become more familiar with the LSAT language. I'll explain these terms, and when you see them again you will know what to do.

"Take for granted" is a common one. It basically means that the author has made an assumption, which may or may not be true.

To "purport" is to make a claim. For example, I purport to be a good basketball player, which may or may not be true.

Let's discuss these terms, as used in the answer choices.

A. The author never argues that the objectivity standards of the natural sciences should apply to historians. She is simply responding to the many historians who believe that they would meet those standards of objectivity. A is not an assumption that she needs to make, so it is not something that she has taken for granted.

B. It is not very strong evidence, but I wouldn't say that it undermines the argument.

C. Does it matter what the historians intended to do? No. The author's argument is based on the false and biased explanations. We don't care how the historians got to these results. It doesn't help that they tried and failed to be objective.

D. Which historians is the author responding to? She is arguing with those who "purport (claim) to be objective." She rejects their claims of objectivity. Based on what evidence? That it is easy to find false historical explanations that match the ideology of their author.

Here is the problem. How do we know where these false conclusions came from? Can we say for certain that they came from the many historians who claim to be objective? No, because "many" is not the same thing as "all". These explanations could have come from historians who do not purport to be objective. The author has taken for granted (assumed) that the biased explanations came from the historians who claim to be objective. This is not necessarily true, which is why D correctly identifies the flaw.

E. The author never says that all historical explanations that embody an ideology are false. She simply says that it is easy to find some that are.