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Disputes | Video lesson

Watch a demonstration of one way to approach questions about disputes on the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT.

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Video transcript

- [Narrator] This question starts out the dialogue between Huang and Suarez most strongly supports the claim that they disagree about whether, so we're looking at a question that wants us to infer a dispute. One of the choices will be a claim that we can reasonably say the two speakers disagree about. The other four choices will be a claim that we can't infer a disagreement about either, because one or both of the speakers doesn't have an opinion about it, or because they agree on it. Pause your video now if you'd like to try this question on your own otherwise, let's move on to the explanation. Okay, let's read this stimulus together and as we do, you don't need to commit everything to memory, just really understand the main conclusion and evidence of each speaker's argument. Huang says, "Most people who commit violent crimes do not carefully consider whether or how they will be punished for these crimes. And those who don't commit violent crimes have no inclination to do so. Rather than impose harsh mandatory sentences, we should attend to the root causes of violence to reduce the rate of violent crime." Suarez then responds with, "Would you say the same about nonviolent crimes, such as tax evasion? Surely mandatory penalties are a useful deterrent in these cases. At any rate, I am confident that mandatory sentences prevent most people who would otherwise physically harm others from doing so." We don't generally make a strong prediction for questions like these because their could be any number of things that the two speakers disagree on. So pigeonholing yourself into one of these possibilities isn't usually very helpful and it could actually be harmful. Instead, it can often be effective for you to evaluate each choice, one at a time, to determine a few things. First, you want to know what the first speakers thinks of the choices claimed. For example, let's look at A together. We could say, "Huang, do you think the best way to reduce violent crime is to address the root causes of violence?" Huang's answer would either be yes, no, or "I have never addressed this". In this case Huang would say, "I have never addressed this." Be careful here. It's true that Huang wants to reduce violent crime by addressing the root causes of violence but Huang never says that's the best way only that it's a way that's preferable to imposing harsh mandatory sentences. So we can put a question mark here on test day to show that we can't infer Huang's opinion on this. As soon as you determine that one of the speakers would respond to the choice with, "I didn't address this", you can eliminate the choice and move on without considering what the other speaker thinks. That's because in order for two people to disagree or agree about something, they both have to have an inferrable opinion on it. If someone says, "I love apples", for example, we can't infer whether that person thinks that apples are the best fruit in the world, whether apples are better than oranges. We can only infer a favorable opinion about apples. Makes sense? Alright, let's evaluate the next choices. B: We could ask Huang, "Do you think that people who commit violent crimes deserve harsh punishment?" Well, Huang doesn't have an answer to this question because the idea of what people deserve isn't an issue that's ever addressed by either speaker. So we can cross this one off, too. C: Let's ask Huang, "Do people who commit violent crimes carefully consider how they will be punished for their crimes?" Well, Huang doesn't think that this is true most of the time based on the first sentence. So Huang's answer would be a no. We can use a minus sign to show that Huang disagrees and now we can move to Suarez. "Suarez, do you think that people who commit violent crimes carefully consider how they will be punished for their crimes?" Well, Suarez doesn't address this. Suarez believes that mandatory sentences prevent most people who would otherwise physically harm others from doing so but never addresses whether people who do commit violent crimes carefully consider their punishment. Suarez is a question mark so that means we can eliminate choice C. For choice D, let's ask Huang, "Do you think that mandatory sentences will deter most people who might otherwise commit violent crimes?" Huang would answer, "No." How can we infer this if it was never stated explicitly? Well, it's because Huang is basically arguing that mandatory sentences don't work, that people committing violent crimes wouldn't think about the mandatory sentences anyway and people who don't commit violent crimes weren't going to commit violent crimes anyway, regardless of the mandatory sentences. So Huang's answer is, "No". What would Suarez's answer be? Would mandatory sentences deter most people who might otherwise commit violent crimes? Suarez would answer with, "Yes". Choice D is simply a paraphrase for the last sentence in Suarez's argument and so because we can reasonably infer that one of the speakers would disagree with choice D and that the other speaker would agree with choice D, then this is our answer. For the record, choice E, which is a claim that severe penalties reduce the incidence of tax evasion, doesn't work because Huang never expresses any kind of opinion on tax evasion. So to recap, you don't need to formulate an answer before evaluating the choices on Infer the Dispute questions ,you simply want to understand each speaker's argument and then find the choice with which one speaker would agree and the other would disagree. Remember that a claim cannot be a point of disagreement or agreement if one or more of the speakers never even addresses that statement or implies anything about it. Finally, keeping short notes on what the speakers each think can be helpful as you go through the choices. We can use a plus sign for agree, a minus sign for disagree and a question mark for no opinion.