LSAT Reading : Analogous Cases in Social Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

Adapted from The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James (1902)

Most books on the philosophy of religion try to begin with a precise definition of what its essence consists of. Some of these would-be definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to you now. Meanwhile the very fact that they are so many and so different from one another is enough to prove that the word "religion" cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a collective name. The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of its materials. This is the root of all that absolutism and one-sided dogmatism by which both philosophy and religion have been infested.

Let us not fall immediately into a one-sided view of our subject, but let us rather admit freely at the outset that we may very likely find no one essence, but many characters which may alternately be equally important to religion. If we should inquire for the essence of "government," for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, another police, another an army, another an assembly, another a system of laws; yet all the while it would be true that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of which is more important at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition that shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn, he would naturally regard an abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more misleading than enlightening. And why may not religion be a conception equally complex?

The author includes the various descriptions of "government" in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

show that government is a very different concept to define, more so than religion

show that government is a more interesting subject than religion

show that the difficulty of defining religion is unique to the study of religion

show how concepts other than religion are as difficult to define in simple terms

show how "religion" and "government" often mean the same thing

Correct answer:

show how concepts other than religion are as difficult to define in simple terms

Explanation:

When the author invokes the many different ways "government" is defined, he is doing so to show that his point about the complexities around defining "religion" can happen in other areas. In particular, the author wishes to show that the multifaceted way "government" can be defined means that a rigid approach to "religion" will not produce a suitable definition.

Example Question #2 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

Adapted from the third volume of The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1782)

The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that afterwards operated without shame or control, were severely checked by the taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus and theaters might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the desires of the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and porticos; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation, whose repose was seldom disturbed, either by study or business. The monuments of consular, or Imperial, greatness were no longer revered, as the immortal glory of the capital: they were only esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper, and more convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were continually addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which stated the want of stones or bricks, for some necessary service: the fairest forms of architecture were rudely defaced, for the sake of some paltry, or pretended, repairs; and the degenerate Romans, who converted the spoil to their own emolument, demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labors of their ancestors. Majorian, who had often sighed over the desolation of the city, applied a severe remedy to the growing evil.

He reserved to the prince and senate the sole cognizance of the extreme cases which might justify the destruction of an ancient edifice; imposed a fine of fifty pounds of gold (two thousand pounds sterling) on every magistrate who should presume to grant such illegal and scandalous license, and threatened to chastise the criminal obedience of their subordinate officers, by a severe whipping, and the amputation of both their hands. In the last instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion of guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous principle, and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of those ages, in which he would have desired and deserved to live. The emperor conceived that it was his interest to increase the number of his subjects; and that it was his duty to guard the purity of the marriage-bed: but the means which he employed to accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids, who consecrated their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the veil till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under that age were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five years, by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest relations, or to the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or annulled. The punishment of confiscation and exile was deemed so inadequate to the guilt of adultery, that, if the criminal returned to Italy, he might, by the express declaration of Majorian, be slain with impunity.

The way in which the author describes the barbarians is analogous to __________.

Possible Answers:

a professor talking about rudimentary facts in a room full of experts

an apologist talking about a taboo topic

a person in a debate reassessing a misconceived subject

a doctor describing a malignant and highly feared illness

a man talking about his brother

Correct answer:

a person in a debate reassessing a misconceived subject

Explanation:

Of these five choices, the best is "a person in a debate reassessing a misconceived subject." The author is supposedly presenting facts, but they are more opinions than facts as he does not go into any great detail to prove them. He does reassess the general opinion of the barbarians as those who destroyed Rome, so he is initially dealing with a misconceived subject. The analogy of the doctor would be correct if the word “malignant” was replaced with “benign.”

Example Question #1 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Adapted from the third volume of The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1782)

The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that afterwards operated without shame or control, were severely checked by the taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus and theaters might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the desires of the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and porticos; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation, whose repose was seldom disturbed, either by study or business. The monuments of consular, or Imperial, greatness were no longer revered, as the immortal glory of the capital: they were only esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper, and more convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were continually addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which stated the want of stones or bricks, for some necessary service: the fairest forms of architecture were rudely defaced, for the sake of some paltry, or pretended, repairs; and the degenerate Romans, who converted the spoil to their own emolument, demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labors of their ancestors. Majorian, who had often sighed over the desolation of the city, applied a severe remedy to the growing evil.

He reserved to the prince and senate the sole cognizance of the extreme cases which might justify the destruction of an ancient edifice; imposed a fine of fifty pounds of gold (two thousand pounds sterling) on every magistrate who should presume to grant such illegal and scandalous license, and threatened to chastise the criminal obedience of their subordinate officers, by a severe whipping, and the amputation of both their hands. In the last instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion of guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous principle, and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of those ages, in which he would have desired and deserved to live. The emperor conceived that it was his interest to increase the number of his subjects; and that it was his duty to guard the purity of the marriage-bed: but the means which he employed to accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids, who consecrated their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the veil till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under that age were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five years, by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest relations, or to the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or annulled. The punishment of confiscation and exile was deemed so inadequate to the guilt of adultery, that, if the criminal returned to Italy, he might, by the express declaration of Majorian, be slain with impunity.

The author's presentation of the destruction of Rome suggest that he might compare the destruction of Rome to __________.

Possible Answers:

the accidental omission of crucial information from a message

the coining of a new technical term

a volcanic eruption

erosion

a turbulent storm

Correct answer:

erosion

Explanation:

The author talks about the destruction of Rome near the start of the passage's first paragraph: “but the destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of ten centuries.” Here, he describes the destruction of Rome as a gradual process that took place over many years. "Erosion" is the process by which rocks and land features are worn down naturally by wind and rain over long periods of time, so we can infer that the author would most likely compare the destruction of Rome to erosion, rather than any of the other answer choices, because both the destruction of Rome and erosion are lengthy and gradational processes. As for the other answer choices, "a turbulent storm" and "a volcanic eruption" are one-time catastrophic or violent events, not gradual processes, and "the coining of a new technical term" and "the accidental omission of crucial information from a message" are not violent, lengthy, or gradual, so they cannot be correct.

Example Question #4 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

Adapted from Crime: Its Cause and Treatment by Clarence Darrow (1922)

The growth of the big cities has produced the child criminal. He is clearly marked and well-defined. He is always poor. Generally he has lost one or both parents in youth and has lived in the crowded districts where the home was congested. He has no adequate playground and he runs the streets or vacant, waste places. He associates and combines with others of his kind. He cannot or does not go to school. If he goes to school, he dreads to go and cannot learn the lessons in the books. He likes to loaf, just as all children like to play. He is often set to work. He has no trade and little capacity for skilled work that brings good wages and steady employment. He works no more than he needs to work. Every night and all the days that he can get are spent in idleness on the street with his "gang."

Many writers have classified the crimes that the boy commits. It is scarcely worth the while. He learns to steal or becomes a burglar largely for the love of adventure; he robs because it is exciting and may bring large returns. In his excursions to pilfer property he may kill, and then for the first time the State discovers that there is such a boy and sets in action the machinery to take his life. The city quite probably has given him a casual notice by arresting him a number of times and sending him to a juvenile prison, but it has rarely extended a hand to help him. Any man or woman who has fairly normal faculties, and can reason from cause to effect, knows that the crimes of children are really the crimes of the State and society which by neglect and active participation have made him what he is. When it is remembered that the man is the child grown up, it is equally easy to understand the adult prisoner.

Which of the following is most similar in reasoning to the author's statement, "When it is remembered that the man is the child grown up, it is equally easy to understand the adult prisoner"?

Possible Answers:

Children often do things that will be foreign to them as adults.

The best way to find a future politician is to see which students are leaders in high school.

An individual who has committed a violent crime is more likely to commit another violent crime.

Many murderers begin their criminal careers with lesser crimes like burglary or arson.

Juvenile delinquents who are put in jail are less likely to commit crimes as adults.

Correct answer:

The best way to find a future politician is to see which students are leaders in high school.

Explanation:

The statement made by the author at the end of the passage explicitly says that an adult's behavior is directly tied to that person's behavior as a child. Thus, the most similar item is the one that explicitly makes this same comparison. While talking about future leaders, instead of future criminals, looking for politicians among student leaders demonstrates the same kind of reasoning.

Example Question #5 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

Adapted from “The Hypocrisy of Puritanism” in Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (1910)

Puritanism celebrated its reign of terror in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, destroying and crushing every manifestation of art and culture. It was the spirit of Puritanism which robbed Shelley of his children, because he would not bow to the dicta of religion. It was the same narrow spirit which alienated Byron from his native land, because that great genius rebelled against the monotony, dullness, and pettiness of his country. It was Puritanism, too, that forced some of England's freest women into the conventional lie of marriage: Mary Wollstonecraft and, later, George Eliot. And recently Puritanism has demanded another toll—the life of Oscar Wilde. In fact, Puritanism has never ceased to be the most pernicious factor in the domain of John Bull, acting as censor of the artistic expression of his people, and stamping its approval only on the dullness of middle-class respectability.

It is therefore sheer British jingoism that points to America as the country of Puritanic provincialism. It is quite true that our life is stunted by Puritanism, and that the latter is killing what is natural and healthy in our impulses. But it is equally true that it is to England that we are indebted for transplanting this spirit on American soil. It was bequeathed to us by the Pilgrim fathers. Fleeing from persecution and oppression, the Pilgrims of Mayflower fame established in the New World a reign of Puritanic tyranny and crime. The history of New England, and especially of Massachusetts, is full of the horrors that have turned life into gloom, joy into despair, naturalness into disease, honesty and truth into hideous lies and hypocrisies. The ducking-stool and whipping post, as well as numerous other devices of torture, were the favorite English methods for American purification.

Boston, the city of culture, has gone down in the annals of Puritanism as the "Bloody Town." It rivaled Salem, even, in her cruel persecution of unauthorized religious opinions. On the now famous Common a half-naked woman, with a baby in her arms, was publicly whipped for the crime of free speech; and on the same spot Mary Dyer, another Quaker woman, was hanged in 1659. In fact, Boston has been the scene of more than one wanton crime committed by Puritanism. Salem, in the summer of 1692, killed eighteen people for witchcraft. Nor was Massachusetts alone in driving out the devil by fire and brimstone. As Canning justly said: "The Pilgrim fathers infested the New World to redress the balance of the Old." The horrors of that period have found their most supreme expression in the American classic, The Scarlet Letter.

An analogous case to "sheer British jingoism that points to America as the country of Puritanic provincialism" would be __________.

Possible Answers:

fans of a sports team criticizing the transactions of their rival sports team

one country blaming another nation for imposing high tariffs on imports

a strict religious group claiming another religious group is too extreme in its rules

one religious group denigrating another religious group for having opposing views

a university not accepting transfer students from other institutions

Correct answer:

a strict religious group claiming another religious group is too extreme in its rules

Explanation:

The notion that Britain believes America is the home of "Puritan provincialism" is absurd to the author because Britain has had as many problems with being destructively Puritanical. The concept that comes closest to this hypocritical idea is a religious group blaming another one for being too strict.

Example Question #1 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Moral Principles in Education (1909) by John Dewey.

There cannot be two sets of ethical principles, one for life in the school, and the other for life outside of the school. As conduct is one, so also the principles of conduct are one. The tendency to discuss the morals of the school as if the school were an institution by itself is highly unfortunate. The moral responsibility of the school, and of those who conduct it, is to society. The school is fundamentally an institution erected by society to do a certain specific work,—to exercise a certain specific function in maintaining the life and advancing the welfare of society. The educational system which does not recognize that this fact entails upon it an ethical responsibility is derelict and a defaulter. It is not doing what it was called into existence to do, and what it pretends to do. Hence the entire structure of the school in general and its concrete workings in particular need to be considered from time to time with reference to the social position and function of the school.

The idea that the moral work and worth of the public school system as a whole are to be measured by its social value is, indeed, a familiar notion. However, it is frequently taken in too limited and rigid a way. The social work of the school is often limited to training for citizenship, and citizenship is then interpreted in a narrow sense as meaning capacity to vote intelligently, disposition to obey laws, etc. But it is futile to contract and cramp the ethical responsibility of the school in this way. The child is one, and he must either live his social life as an integral unified being, or suffer loss and create friction. To pick out one of the many social relations which the child bears, and to define the work of the school by that alone, is like instituting a vast and complicated system of physical exercise which would have for its object simply the development of the lungs and the power of breathing, independent of other organs and functions. The child is an organic whole, intellectually, socially, and morally, as well as physically. We must take the child as a member of society in the broadest sense, and demand for and from the schools whatever is necessary to enable the child intelligently to recognize all his social relations and take his part in sustaining them.

The author makes reference to "the development of the lungs and the power of breathing" in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

create a sense of the necessary separation between two different subjects in a school atmosphere

demonstrate that educational methods in one subject are able to be used in another subject

highlight the ridiculousness of focusing solely on good citizenship in moral and ethical education

illustrate the many flaws in the methods of teaching science in most educational models

develop an argument about the necessary limitations placed on moral and ethical education

Correct answer:

highlight the ridiculousness of focusing solely on good citizenship in moral and ethical education

Explanation:

The author believes that moral and ethical education should produce well rounded students rather than simply good citizens. In order to show how problematic a focus on "citizenship" is in moral education, the author turns to physical education for an analogy. The use of the example of focusing only on making students able to breathe and function, rather than truly be healthy, underlines the author's points about creating well rounded members of society.

Example Question #7 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

The desire for a good meal is a near universal fact of human existence. Yet precisely what makes a meal “good” is highly dependent on personal preferences, cultural traditions, and the particular circumstances surrounding the search for a satisfying dining experience. The quality of the food being eaten might not even be the number one criteria in making a diner find a meal enjoyable, although it would be the main driving force in choosing what to eat and why. Certainly, the environment plays a large part in creating feelings of satisfaction during a meal, as no one has ever enjoyed a meal in a mood of anxiety and stress or in a setting which was uncomfortable. Even the most basic meals are enhanced when they are served by beloved family members in a festive setting. Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners are always well remembered, even when the turkey and dressing are premade, reheated items. The principle of dining environment also extends to eating out, as a restaurant can serve mediocre food in a pleasant environment with tremendous service and do quite well for itself. Of course, the restaurant with remarkable service in an enjoyable setting that also has high quality food will beat everything. Well flavored and perfectly cooked food hits the basic pleasure centers of the brain in a straightforward way, and any good tasting food will make a person much happier and satisfied. If it comes from a roadside shack, a family diner, or a three star Michelin restaurant can make no difference to the tastebuds. The overall atmosphere and experience is what makes good food into a great meal, and what causes this transformation depends on the background of the individual doing the eating. A person born and raised in Alabama who grew up regularly going to a shack serving excellent barbecue in its back yard will consider this the ideal dining experience. A native Osakan who once a week went to a ramen shop will find slurping noodles to be impossible to surpass as a meal. Meanwhile, a native Lyonnais will desire the finest gastronomic creations served in the fanciest restaurants to be the only acceptable good dining experience. The beauty of human interaction with food is that it is both one of the most elementary and universal experiences of the human condition, while also being absolutely particular to an individual’s culture, experience, and desires.

An analogous case to that which is presented in the passage would be the argument that ______________.

Possible Answers:

the cultural differences between approaches to cooking are not that significant

preferred entertainment experiences are highly dependent on cultural factors

the desire to follow sports largely functions the same across all cultures

proper culinary training requires extremely strict and regiments knowledge and techniques

the knowledge of other cultures improves a person's chances at succeeding in the world

Correct answer:

preferred entertainment experiences are highly dependent on cultural factors

Explanation:

The author's argument in the passage is that the elements that make up a good dining experience are varied and highly dependent on a number of factors. An analogous case must follow this same line of reasoning, and the only answer choice which does so is "preferred entertainment experiences are highly dependent on cultural factors."

Example Question #2 : Analogous Cases In Social Science Passages

"Team Sports" (2016)

Sports may seem to rule the world. The World Cup for association football, better known as soccer in North America and simply football in Britain, is the most watched event across the globe every four years. The Super Bowl, the championship for American football’s National Football League, has become a topic of conversation internationally, despite the localized reach of its parent league. The Indian Premier League tapped into a cricket mad population of over one billion, giving India a new national obsession in the twenty-first century.

Despite their ubiquity in our modern society, organized team sports are largely the invention of, to borrow from Sir Winston Churchill’s history writing, English speaking peoples during the nineteenth century. This is not to say that certain kinds of large scale games were never played, but they were seen primarily as children’s diversions. When played by adults, they took an informal, chaotic nature. “Football” often merely described a game played on foot rather than horseback, and it often had a simple target of one group of men attempting to get a ball past a parish or county boundary, with their opposition able to stop them anyway they saw fit. Cricket, the game of the upper classes that could play on days other than Sunday, was early developed compared to other sports, but it only had set numbers of players and regular length of games beginning in the mid-eighteenth century.

The nineteenth century saw a positive flood of rules for what were previously considered ways to keep kids amused during an afternoon. In New York, a men’s society calling themselves the Knickerbocker Club set down a firm set of rules for baseball, so that they could play it among themselves and against other teams. At England’s Cambridge University in 1848, a large group of students put together their different forms of football to create a more universal set of rules. The Melbourne Football Club from Victoria, Australia officially set down their own rules for their particular form of football in 1859, giving rise to the game now known as “Australian football.” The late nineteenth century saw the holdouts against the original Cambridge rules develop Rugby football on the principle that the ball should be handled occasionally, which would be modified into Rugby Union in the south of England, Rugby League in the north of England, and American and Canadian football in North America.

This obsession with rules might seem like a particularly Victorian pastime, making sure everything had its place and never allowing anything to get out of order. Yet it was also borne out of the fact that railroads meant that what used to be county pastimes could now be played at a national and even international level and newspapers allowed the stories of far away games to be transmitted almost instantaneously. The extra component that made organized team sports come into being would appear to be the will of the British and their former and current colonies to exert control and authority over every element of life.

Which of the following statements best reflects an analogous case to that presented in the passage?

Possible Answers:

The loss of interest in activities such as corporal punishment and public executions was largely the result of a large scale social protest movement

No organized artistic companies were in existence during the nineteenth century at the same level as organized team sports

Many peoples interest in organized team sports strengthens as they get older and reach adulthood

A large scale advancement in popular entertainments occurred during the sixteenth century when societal factors made attending such events easier

A rise in physical activity was seen in the late twentieth century due to the influence of a particular kind of exercise routine

Correct answer:

A large scale advancement in popular entertainments occurred during the sixteenth century when societal factors made attending such events easier

Explanation:

The passage describes a positive groundswell in the organization of team sports during the nineteenth century by English speaking peoples, stemming from a variety of social factors. A similar phenomenon is described by an explosion of popular entertainments in the sixteenth century due to societal factors.

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