I’ve basically been driving myself insane studying for the Law School Admission Test for the last month, hence the not posting very often. I don’t know if anyone’s interested in these kinds of things, but here’s an example of one of the harder questions on the test which determines the future lawyers of America (from the Jun 2009 LSAT):
To win democratic elections that are not fully subsidized by the government, nonwealthy candidates must be supported by wealthy patrons. This makes plausible the belief that these candidates will compromise their views to win that support. But since the wealthy are dispersed among the various political parties in roughly equal proportion to their percentage in the overall population, this belief is false.
This argument is vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it fails to consider that
A) The primary function of political parties in democracies whose governments do not subsidize elections might not be to provide a means of negating the influence of wealth on elections
B) In democracies in which elections are not fully subsidized by the government, positions endorsed by political parties might be much less varied than the positions taken by candidates
C) In democracies, government-subsidized elections ensure that the views expressed by the people who run for office might not be overly influenced by the opinions of the wealthiest people in those countries
D) In democracies in which elections are not fully subsidized by the government, it might be no easier for a wealthy person to win an election than it is for a nonwealthy person to win an election
E) A democracy in which candidates do not compromise their views in order to be elected might have other flaws
Okay….so, the first problem I think most people have with this question is that the argument in the stimulus is a terrible one, which makes only a faint resemblance of sense. The argument is this: wealthy people are proportionately represented in political parties, so political candidates that depend on them will not compromise their views. On second thought, that actually makes no sense—the two sides of this cause-and-effect agreement have nothing in common besides the word politics.
This is where I got into trouble, because I was in a rush and I didn’t fully comprehend how bad this argument was. So, I moved on to the answer choices, all of which seemed completely irrelevant also. I ended up completely stuck and just picked a random choice—C—which was wrong.
The correct answer choice is B. It creates doubt that candidates have positions which are similar to positions of political parties, and thus makes it less significant that wealthy patrons are equally represented in political parties. I mean, it still doesn’t really make any sense—I don’t know how you weaken an argument as bad as the one we’re given, it’s like kicking a dead horse. But if I’d had time to sort it through I would have realized it was the only answer choice which related to the actual argument in a direct way—i.e., the only one which introduced a distinction in political parties or candidates. The other ones just talk about random things.
Oh, well. Test in a week. Hopefully I’ll be able to drop some of this knowledge if I ever run into a similar situation on the real one.