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   II-B. Putting it into your own words and evaluate

Now that you know how to break down arguments into premises, assumptions and conclusions, you are able to translate a passage into your own words. Usually the passage describes something very simple in a complicated manner, and putting it in your own words helps you to get a handle on what the passage means.

Apartment building owners argue that rent control should be abolished. Although they acknowledge that they would increase rents in the short term, owners argue that in the long term the rent increases would lead to greater profitability. Higher profits would lead to increased apartment construction. Increased apartment construction would then lead to a greater supply of residences and lower prices as the potential apartment residents have a better selection. Thus, abolishing rent control would ultimately reduce prices.

To make that complicated argument easy to understand, try breaking it down into your own words:
Premise #1 Abolishing rent control will increase the supply of housing.
Premise #2 Greater supply leads to lower prices.
Conclusion Abolishing rent control leads to lower rents
Analysis This is a supply/demand argument
  1. That demand for new housing will remain constant and not outstrip supply.
  2. The marketplace for housing is flexible.
  3. New construction won't raise the overall value of the area and raise prices as the market gentrifies.
  4. etc...

More than simply "putting it in your own words," you need to evaluate an argument's persuasiveness. The more unstated assumptions or logical flaws, the weaker the argument will be.


LSAT arguments usually aren't that sweeping
On the LSAT, arguments are short and have assumptions, so making sweeping statements isn't likely to be correct.

All sweeping statements should be noticed.
Always notice sweeping statements.
Never ignore sweeping keywords.
None of these keywords should be ignored.
Only ignore sweeping statements at your peril.

The problem with these sweeping statements is that only one exception can disprove the argument.

All business school students want is just a higher salary!

Sounds like someone got a lousy score on the LSAT? But, if we use a qualifier, that sweeping generalization suddenly becomes plausible:

Some business school students just want a higher salary.

Try qualifiers like:

Some qualifiers help make arguments more sound.
Usually qualifiers help make arguments more sound.
Sometimes qualifiers help make arguments more sound.
Qualifiers probably help make arguments more sound.
Most qualifiers help make arguments more sound.
Often qualifiers help make arguments more sound.

These words soften your argument and make it less easy to refute because your argument can withstand some exceptions.


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