Eighteenth–century moralist: You should never make an effort to acquire expensive new tastes, since they are a drain...

Rinku on November 7, 2013

Eighteenth-century moralist

Please provide a detailed explanation why the answer is E.

1 Reply

Melody on November 11, 2013

Okay, here we have an Errors in Reasoning question, so we are identifying the flaw in the argument.

The first step is to identify the conclusion and premise(s) of the argument. The conclusion of the argument is: "You should never make an effort to acquire expensive new tastes."

Why? Well the author sets forth three premises: (1) they are a drain on your purse, (2) in the course of acquiring them you may expose yourself to sensations that are obnoxious to you, and (3) the very effort that must be expended in their acquisition attests their superfluity.

So the moralist's support for his conclusion is a number of cons that come with acquiring expensive new tastes. However, he never discusses any pros. It's important to note that the moralist doesn't say there are no benefits. He merely floats over any discussion of them. This should be your red flag. If the reasoning of a conclusion is based solely on the costs of something, one must ask whether the benefits possibly outweigh the costs.

(A) is incorrect because this answer choice is describing the flaw of circular reasoning (i.e. I am cool because I am cool), but we have not encountered a circular flaw in this argument.

(B) is incorrect because the moralist has not taken this for granted. To take something for granted is to accept it without evidence. The moralist has not discussed that the acquisition of expensive tastes will lead to financial irresponsibility. Thus, this is not why the moralist's reasoning is most vulnerable to criticism.

(C) is incorrect because the moralist's usage of the term "sensations" is not inherently vague. Therefore, failing to provide a definition is not why the moralist's reasoning is most vulnerable to criticism.

(D) is incorrect because this answer choice is describing a cause and effect flaw, but we have not encountered a cause and effect flaw in the argument. We only ever discuss the negative effects of making an effort to acquire expensive new tastes, as opposed to the causes of it.

(E) is CORRECT because it describes the flaw in the argument. Without considering the pros, a decision cannot be made on whether one should make an effort to acquire expensive tastes by solely considering the cons. What if the pros outweigh the cons? Thus, (E) has correctly delineated the error in reasoning in the argument.

At first you may find Errors in Reasoning questions to be tricky. However, the key to these questions, as with the entirety of the LSAT, is practice. The more you practice and encounter the different types of flaws, the more comfortable you will be with them. The more you are comfortable with these flaws, the more comfortable you will be identifying them. Also, process of elimination is extremely helpful on these questions types (as well as on Methods of Reasoning questions).

Hope that was helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions.