LSAT Reading : Authorial Tone and Attitude in Law Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

To create the Trafficking in Persons (TIPS) Report, the Secretary of State ranks countries according to a system of tiers based on the efforts those countries make against human trafficking.  According to the United States, the minimum conditions that a country must meet to be a country in good standing, designated as a Tier 1 country, are somewhat subjective.  There must be “serious and sustained efforts to eliminate human trafficking,” such as prohibiting and punishing acts of human trafficking, taking measures to deter offenses in the future, creating public awareness, and protecting victims of human trafficking. 

Tier 2 countries do not fully comply with the standards for Tier 1 countries, but are making significant efforts to do so.  Tier 2 Watch List countries meet the same criteria as Tier 2 countries, but also satisfy one of the following: 1) the number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or significantly increasing; 2) no evidence can be shown that there are increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or 3) the finding that a country was making significant efforts to comply with minimum standards was based on that country’s commitment to take future steps over the next year.  Tier 3 countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.  The penalties for Tier 3 countries include being subject to certain sanctions such as: the withdrawal of non-humanitarian and non-trade related foreign assistance, not receiving funding for educational and cultural exchange programs, and potential U.S. opposition to assistance from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The TIPS Report relies on U.S. missions to regularly meet with foreign government officials in order to gain information about human trafficking in countries throughout the world. It is the world’s most comprehensive report on human trafficking, and is trusted as an accurate depiction of the policies and laws being used in various countries.  Specifically, the TIPS Report evaluates countries’ efforts against human trafficking based on the efforts taken in the areas of prosecution, prevention, and protection. The evaluation of a country’s prosecution efforts is based on whether laws against human trafficking exist and are actively enforced against perpetrators.  Prevention efforts should focus on raising public awareness about human trafficking and rectifying laws that make certain populations more vulnerable to human trafficking than others.  Finally, protection efforts seek to address the needs of existing or potential victims.

Which one of the following best captures the author's attitude toward the TIPS Report?

Possible Answers:

Subtly emotive, as the text deals with a sensitive issue

Admiration for the TIPS Report's ability to be nonpartisan

Enthusiasm for its effectiveness and innovative tactics

Objectively descriptive of how the TIPS Report is used to assess countries' actions against human trafficking

Disinterested in the human trauma that results from human trafficking

Correct answer:

Objectively descriptive of how the TIPS Report is used to assess countries' actions against human trafficking

Explanation:

The tone is very objective and descriptive; its intent is simply to communicate information, not to inspire admiration, enthusiasm, or emotion. Additionally, the text is not disinterested. Therefore, the correct answer is:

Objectively descriptive of how the TIPS Report is used to assess countries' actions against human trafficking

Example Question #24 : Analyzing Law Passages

Adapted from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790)

In the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of “a right to frame a government for themselves.” You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed and had been lately endangered. They state “in the first place” to do “as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”

You will observe that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down to us and from us in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance, we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchers, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual, native dignity. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.

Which of the following best exemplifies the author's didactic tone?

Possible Answers:

The use of overly elevated diction.

The use of first person plural ("our").

The heavy repetition of key terms, like "inheritance."

The relatively muted, straightforward diction of the piece overall.

The use of second person directives like "you will observe."

Correct answer:

The use of second person directives like "you will observe."

Explanation:

The best evidence provided of the author's didactic tone would be the use of second person directives ("You will observe, that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right . . ."). Second person directives, especially when combined with the author's firm assertion about the intellectual conclusions "you" will reach from such actions, are a very clear example of the author's firmly didactic tone.

The diction of the passage is, in fact, relatively florid and hardly muted, but elevated diction does not translate directly into a didactic tone. While the author does use the first person plural (most likely to call on the common ground of "inheritance" and tradition he assumes with his readers), this is not evidence of his didactic tone. The author's heavy repetition of key terms is an important aspect of his rhetorical strategy, but tonally, it is hardly as didactic a technique as his use of second person directives.

Example Question #4 : Audience

Adapted from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790)

In the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of “a right to frame a government for themselves.” You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed and had been lately endangered. They state “in the first place” to do “as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”

You will observe that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down to us and from us in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance, we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchers, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual, native dignity. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.

In this passage, Burke assumes his audience to be which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Liberal politicians

Conservative politicians

Committed revolutionaries

French citizens directly affected by the revolution

Loyal, politically aware British citizens

Correct answer:

Loyal, politically aware British citizens

Explanation:

In this passage, Burke assumes his audience to be loyal, politically aware British citizens. The best evidence of this is his use of the first person plural ("our") making clear the degree to which he assumes the common ground of Britishness (evidenced by his pointed focus on the political and cultural traditions of Britain, like the Magna Carta). Burke's assumes that his audience will share a knowledge of, and investment in, the political, social, and most importantly monarchical traditions of Britain.

While the political viewpoint Burke supports is quite conservative, the common ground he assumes with his audience is broad and more associated with the country at large. There is no indication in the passage that his assumed audience is made up of politicians, merely that they are politically aware.

Example Question #2 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

Adapted from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790)

In the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of “a right to frame a government for themselves.” You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed and had been lately endangered. They state “in the first place” to do “as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”

You will observe that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down to us and from us in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance, we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchers, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual, native dignity. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.

In the underlined excerpt, the author uses __________.

Possible Answers:

semicolons in each sentence to create a parallel structure that reflects the theme of holistic blending and balance in English tradition discussed in the sentences

an extended metaphor to illustrate the well-balanced and secure political structure of England

semicolons in each sentence to create an ironically ornate structure intended to mock the over-elaborate diction and style of argumentation used by his intellectual opponents

semicolons in each sentence, both to create a consistent rhythm and structure to the sentences and to reflect the theme of uncertain progression discussed in them

elaborate imagery to create a sense of wonderment at the accomplishments of the monarchical political tradition in England

Correct answer:

semicolons in each sentence to create a parallel structure that reflects the theme of holistic blending and balance in English tradition discussed in the sentences

Explanation:

In the indicated excerpt, the author uses semicolons to create a balanced structure that reflects the theme of holistic blending and balance in English tradition discussed in those sentences. In each sentence, the author uses semicolons after an initial point to negate any possible negative connotations of the initial positive statement ("sure principle of conservation" / "without excluding a principle of improvement," "leaves acquisition free" / "but secures what it acquires"), thus creating a parallel structure and rhythm that reflects his thesis in the highlighted excerpt.

The excerpt features a series of direct claims, not an extended metaphor. It discusses relatively abstract principles and eschews imagery.

The author's points, and use of style in support of those points, are sincere and not intended to ironize or mock anyone.

The theme discussed in the excerpt and furthered by the structure is the balanced and positive nature of British society, not the uncertainty potentially wrought by progressivism.

Example Question #3 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

Adapted from Criminal Psychology: A Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students by Hans Gross (1911)

It is a mistake to suppose that it is enough in most cases to study that side of a person that is at the moment important—his or her dishonesty only, his or her laziness, etc. That will naturally lead to merely one-sided judgment and anyway be much harder than keeping the whole person in eye and studying him or her as an entirety. Every individual quality is merely a symptom of a whole nature and can be explained only by the whole complex; the good properties depend as much on the bad ones as the bad on the good ones. At the very least, the quality and quantity of a good or bad characteristic shows the influence of all the other good and bad characteristics. Kindliness is influenced and partly created through weakness, indetermination, too great susceptibility, a minimum acuteness, false constructiveness, untrained capacity for inference; in the same way, again, the most cruel hardness depends on properties which, taken in themselves, are good: determination, energy, purposeful action, clear conception of one's fellows, healthy egotism, etc. Every person is the result of his or her nature and nurture, i.e. of countless individual conditions, and every one of his or her expressions, again, is the result of all of these conditions. If, therefore, he or she is to be judged, he or she must be judged in the light of them all.

For this reason, all those indications that show us the person as a whole are for us the most important, but also those others are valuable which show him or her up on one side only; however, in the latter case, they are to be considered only as an index that never relieves us from the need further to study the nature of our subject.

We ask, for example, what kind of person will give us the best and most reliable information about the conduct and activity, the nature and character, of an individual? We are told: that sort of person who is usually asked for the information—his or her nearest friends and acquaintances and the authorities. Before all of these people do not show themselves as they are because the most honest will show themselves before people in whose judgment they have an interest at least as good as, if not better than they are—that is fundamental to the general egoistic essence of humanity, which seeks at least to avoid reducing its present welfare. Authorities who are asked to make a statement concerning any person can say reliably only how often the individual was punished or came otherwise in contact with the law or themselves. But concerning the individual's social characteristics the authorities have nothing to say; the detectives have to bring an answer. Then the detectives are, at most, simply people who have had the opportunity to watch and interrogate the servants, house-furnishers, porters, and corner-loafers, and other people in the employ of the individual. Why we do not question these people ourselves I cannot say; if we did, we might know these people on whom we depend for important information and might put our questions according to the answers that we need. 

It is a purely negative thing that an official declaration is nowadays not infrequently presented to us in the disgusting form of gossip. But in itself, the form of getting information about people through those who work for them is correct. People show their weaknesses most readily before those whom they hold of no account. This fact is well-known, but not sufficiently studied. It is of considerable importance. The Styrian, Peter Rosegger, one of the best students of mankind, once told a first-rate story of how the most intimate secrets of certain people became common talk although all concerned assured him that nobody had succeeded in getting knowledge of them. The news-agent was finally discovered in the person of an old, quiet woman who worked by the day in various homes and had found a place, unobserved and apparently indifferent, in the corner of the sitting-room. Nobody had told her any secrets, but things were allowed to occur before her from which she might guess and put them together. Nobody had watched this disinterested, ancient lady; she worked like a machine; her thoughts, when she noted a quarrel or anxiety or disagreement or joy, were indifferent to all concerned, and so she discovered a great deal that was kept secret from people perceived to be more important. This simple story is very significant—we are not to pay attention to gossips but to keep in mind that the information of people is in the rule more important and more reliable when the question under consideration is indifferent to them than when it is important.

This passage could best be described as __________.

Possible Answers:

considerate and defensive

arrogant and argumentative

disparaging and critical

assured and edifying

judicious and portentous

Correct answer:

assured and edifying

Explanation:

The tone of this passage could best be described as “confident" or "assured.” The author is resolute and unwavering in his conclusions, but never strays into the territory of more dramatic tones such as “disparaging or arrogant.” As could be inferred from a glance at the title or understood from a deep interpretation of the whole essay, the author's intention is to educate or edify a group of would-be judges and practitioners of law. It might be reasonable to call the author’s tone “considerate,” if you take the word to mean carefully considered, rather than kind and thoughtful; however, calling the intention “defensive” suggests an insecurity or argumentative nature that the essay simply does not have. Similarly, you could reasonably call the tone “judicious” (although there are better options for tone), but “portentous” means ominous or warning, and this is nothing like the tone or intention of the passage.

Example Question #4 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

Adapted from Criminal Psychology: A Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students by Hans Gross (1911)

Socrates, in the Meno, sends for one of Meno's servants, to prove the possibility of absolutely certain a priori knowledge. The servant is to determine the length of a rectangle, the area of which is twice that of one measuring two feet. He is to have no previous knowledge of the matter and is to discover the answer for himself. The servant first gives out an incorrect answer, that the length of a rectangle having twice the area of the one mentioned is four feet, thinking that the length doubles with the area. Thereupon Socrates triumphantly points out to Meno that the servant does as a matter of fact not yet quite know the truth under consideration, but that he really thinks he knows it; and then Socrates, in his own Socratic way, leads the servant to the correct solution.

When we properly consider what we have to do with a witness who has to relate any fact, we may see in the Socratic method the simplest example of our task. We must never forget that the majority of mankind dealing with any subject whatever always believe that they know and repeat the truth, and even when they say doubtfully, “I believe— It seems to me,'' there is, in this diffidence, more meant than meets the ear. When people say “I believe that—‘' it merely means that they intend to ensure themselves against the event of being contradicted by better informed persons; but they certainly have not the doubt their expression indicates. When, however, the report of some bare fact is in question (“It rained,” “It was 9 o’clock,'' or “His beard was brown,”) it does not matter to the narrator, and if he or she imparts such facts with the introduction “I believe,'' then he or she was really uncertain. The matter becomes important only where the issue involves partly-concealed observations, conclusions, and judgments. In such cases another factor enters—conceit; what the witness asserts he or she is fairly certain of just because he or she asserts it, and all the “I believes,'' “Perhapses,'' and “It seemeds'' are merely insurance against all accidents.

Generally, statements are made without such reservations and with full assurance. This holds also and more intensely of court witnesses, particularly in crucial matters. Anybody experienced in his or her conduct comes to be absolutely convinced that witnesses do not know what they know. A series of assertions are made with utter certainty. Yet when these are successively subjected to closer examinations, tested for their ground and source, only a very small portion can be retained unaltered. Of course, one may here overshoot the mark. It often happens, even in the routine of daily life, that a person may be made to feel shaky in his most absolute convictions, by means of an energetic attack and searching questions. Conscientious and sanguine people are particularly easy subjects of such doubts. Somebody narrates an event; questioning begins as to the indubitability of the fact, as to the exclusion of possible deception; the narrator becomes uncertain, recalling that, because of a lively imagination, he or she has already believed him- or herself to have seen things otherwise than they actually were, and finally he or she admits that the matter might probably have been different. During trials this is still more frequent. The circumstance of being in court of itself excites most people; the consciousness that one's statement is, or may be, of great significance increases the excitement; and the authoritative character of the official subdues very many people to conform their opinions to his or hers. What wonder then, that however much a person may be convinced of the correctness of his or her evidence, he or she may yet fail in the face of the doubting judge to know anything certainly?

Now one of the most difficult tasks of the criminalist is to hit, in just such cases, upon the truth—neither to accept the testimony blindly and uncritically, nor to render the witness, who otherwise is telling the truth, vacillating and doubtful. But it is still more difficult to lead the witness, who is not intentionally falsifying, but has merely observed incorrectly or has made false conclusions, to a statement of the truth as Socrates leads the servant in the Meno. It is as modern as it is comfortable to assert that this is not the judge's business—that the witness is to depose, his or her evidence is to be accepted, and the judge is to judge. Yet it is supposed before everything else that the duty of the court is to establish the material truth—that the formal truth is insufficient. Moreover, if we notice false observations and let them by, then, under certain circumstance, we are minus one important piece of evidence pro and con, and the whole case may be turned topsy-turvy. We shall, then, proceed in the Socratic fashion. But, inasmuch as we are not concerned with mathematics, and are hence more badly placed in the matter of proof, we shall have to proceed more cautiously and with less certainty than when the question is merely one of the area of a square. On the one hand we know only in the rarest cases that we are not ourselves mistaken, so that we must not, without anything further, lead another to agree with us; on the other hand, we must beware of perverting the witness from his or her possibly sound opinions. Whoever is able to correct the witness's apparently false conceptions and to lead him or her to discover his or her error of his or her own accord and then to speak the truth— whoever can do this and yet does not go too far, deducing from the facts nothing that does not actually follow from them—that person is a master among us.

The overall tone of this passage could best be described as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Reverential and unquestioning

Theoretical and erudite

Edifying and optimistic

Instructive and pessimistic

Haughty and banal

Correct answer:

Instructive and pessimistic

Explanation:

The tone of this passage is certainly intended to be “instructive” and “edifying.” It could not reasonably be called “unquestioning” or “banal,” so we can easily eliminate those answer choices. It could perhaps be called “erudite,” but it deals with the realities of dealing with witnesses and thus can't be accurately called "theoretical." We are left with determining whether the tone is closer to pessimistic or optimistic. Here is a significant challenge, as it might seem wise to assume it is optimistic—after all, the author believes he is imparting a valuable truth to potential lawyers and judges; however, the language used by the author betrays a certain pessimistic attitude that ultimately determines the nature of the tone more conclusively. For example, “But it is still more difficult to lead the witness, who is not intentionally falsifying, but has merely observed incorrectly or has made false conclusions, to a statement of the truth,” “hence more badly placed in the matter of proof, we shall have to proceed more cautiously and with less certainty,” and “whoever can do this and yet does not go too far, deducing from the facts nothing that does not actually follow from them—that person is a master among us.” From these three excerpts it is clear that the author feels the task he is discussing is challenging, and, sadly, near impossible.

Example Question #5 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

Adapted from The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1881)

If it were necessary to trench further upon the field of morals, it might be suggested that the dogma of equality applied even to individuals only within the limits of ordinary dealings in the common run of affairs. You cannot argue with your neighbor, except on the admission for the moment that he is as wise as you, although you may by no means believe it. In the same way, you cannot deal with him, where both are free to choose, except on the footing of equal treatment, and the same rules for both. The ever-growing value set upon peace and the social relations tends to give the law of social being the appearance of the law of all being. But it seems to me clear that the ultima ratio, not only regum, but of private persons, is force, and that at the bottom of all private relations, however tempered by sympathy and all the social feelings, is a justifiable self-preference. If a man is on a plank in the deep sea that will only float one, and a stranger lays hold of it, he will thrust him off if he can. When the state finds itself in a similar position, it does the same thing.

The considerations that answer the argument of equal rights also answer the objections to treating man as a thing, and the like. If a man lives in society, he is liable to find himself so treated. The degree of civilization which a people has reached, no doubt, is marked by their anxiety to do as they would be done by. It may be the destiny of humanity that the social instincts shall grow to control our actions absolutely, even in anti-social situations. But they have not yet done so, and as the rules of law are or should be based upon a morality that is generally accepted, no rule founded on a theory of absolute unselfishness can be laid down without a breach between law and working beliefs.

If it be true, as I shall presently try to show, that the general principles of criminal and civil liability are the same, it will follow from that alone that theory and fact agree in frequently punishing those who have been guilty of no moral wrong, and who could not be condemned by any standard that did not avowedly disregard the personal peculiarities of the individuals concerned. If punishment stood on the moral grounds that are proposed for it, the first thing to be considered would be those limitations in the capacity for choosing rightly that arise from abnormal instincts, want of education, lack of intelligence, and all the other defects which are most marked in the criminal classes. I do not say that they should not be, or at least I do not need to for my argument. I do not say that the criminal law does more good than harm. I only say that it is not enacted or administered on that theory.

The author's attitude toward traditional ideas about criminal law is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

curious and inquiring

fawning and appreciative

enthusiastic and celebratory

nasty and dismissive

skeptical and questioning

Correct answer:

skeptical and questioning

Explanation:

The author clearly believes that traditional notions about the whys and wherefores of criminal law are largely incorrect; however, the author's tone is measured, and he sincerely tries to demonstrate where the problems lie for the help of his reader. This skeptical and questioning tone allows the author to carefully analyze the nature of criminal law in the passage.

Example Question #6 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

Adapted from the Opinion of the Court by Chief Justice Morrison Waite in the United States Supreme Court Case Reynolds v. U.S. 98 U.S. 145 (1878)

The word "religion" is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning, and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted. The precise point of the inquiry is what is the religious freedom which has been guaranteed.

Before the adoption of the Constitution, attempts were made in some of the colonies and states to legislate not only in respect to the establishment of religion, but in respect to its doctrines and precepts as well. The people were taxed, against their will, for the support of religion, and sometimes for the support of particular sects to whose tenets they could not and did not subscribe. Punishments were prescribed for a failure to attend upon public worship, and sometimes for entertaining [98 U.S. 145, 163] heretical opinions. The controversy upon this general subject was animated in many of the states, but seemed at last to culminate in Virginia. In 1784, the House of Delegates of that State having under consideration “a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion” postponed it until the next session, and directed that the bill should be published and distributed, and that the people be requested “to signify their opinion respecting the adoption of such a bill at the next session of assembly.”

This brought out a determined opposition. Amongst others, Mr. Madison prepared a "Memorial and Remonstrance," which was widely circulated and signed, and in which he demonstrated "that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator," was not within the cognizance of civil government. [Semple's Virginia Baptists, Appendix.] At the next session the proposed bill was not only defeated, but another, "for establishing religious freedom," drafted by Mr. Jefferson, was passed. [1 Jeff. Works, 45; 2 Howison, Hist. of Va. 298.] In the preamble of this act (12 Hening's Stat. 84) religious freedom is defined; and after a recital "that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty," it is declared "that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order." In these two sentences is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the state.

The author views religion as __________.

Possible Answers:

the most important aspect in determining what should be considered legal by a government

something that should be revered and protected by all civil governments

a problematic element of society that governments should actively purge from society

a matter with which civil government should not interfere

a general nuisance to the effectiveness of civil order

Correct answer:

a matter with which civil government should not interfere

Explanation:

The author's overall tone in the passage is somewhat removed and distant; however, the final sentence, wherein the author quotes Jefferson's Act, demonstrates that the author agrees with Jefferson's sentiments that government should not interfere with religion and that religious precepts have no place in the functioning of government.

Example Question #7 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

Adapted from Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U.S. 130 (1878)

Cruel and unusual punishments are forbidden by the Constitution, but the authorities referred to are quite sufficient to show that the punishment of shooting as a mode of executing the death penalty for the crime of murder in the first degree is not included in that category, within the meaning of the eighth amendment. Soldiers convicted of desertion or other capital military offences are in the great majority of cases sentenced to be shot, and the ceremony for such occasions is given in great fullness by the writers upon the subject of courts-martial . . .

Where the conviction is in the civil tribunals, the rule of the common law was that the sentence or judgment must be pronounced or rendered by the court in which the prisoner was tried or finally condemned, and the rule was universal that it must be such as is annexed to the crime by law. Of these, says Blackstone, some are capital, which extend to the life of the offender, and consist generally in being hanged by the neck till dead . . .

Such is the general statement of that commentator, but he admits that in very atrocious crimes other circumstances of terror, pain, or disgrace were sometimes superadded. Cases mentioned by the author are where the prisoner was drawn or dragged to the place of execution, in treason; or where he was emboweled alive, beheaded, and quartered, in high treason. Mention is also made of public dissection in murder, and burning alive in treason committed by a female. History confirms the truth of these atrocities, but the commentator states that the humanity of the nation by tacit consent allowed the mitigation of such parts of those judgments as savored of torture or cruelty, and he states that they were seldom strictly carried into effect.

Difficulty would attend the effort to define with exactness the extent of the constitutional provision which provides that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted; but it is safe to affirm that punishments of torture, such as those mentioned by the commentator referred to, and all others in the same line of unnecessary cruelty, are forbidden by that amendment to the Constitution.

The author's attitude towards torture is best stated as __________.

Possible Answers:

a necessity to indicate the severity of the crime that is being punished

an unnecessary addition to legal and appropriate punishments

an additional component to elements of punishment required in special circumstances

a component of legal punishment that has existed throughout history

an extralegal tradition that has never been sanctioned by actual legal authorities

Correct answer:

an unnecessary addition to legal and appropriate punishments

Explanation:

The author, Supreme Court Justice Nathan Clifford, uses a generally matter-of-fact tone about the nature of punishment throughout history, including its more gruesome moments. This tone allows the author to essentially dismiss the use of torture as punishment out of hand completely, viewing it as an unnecessary element in the modern legal process.

Example Question #8 : Authorial Tone And Attitude In Law Passages

"Lynch Law" by William Floyd (2015)

“Lynch Law” as it was known can appear as a peculiar feature of the past only. Never in the present day does a mob, carrying torches, clubs, and small firearms, descend upon a county jail to take from a cell an accused criminal who is supposed to have committed a crime so heinous and unspeakable that the crowd believes the only justice is to find the nearest sturdy tree to hang the accused from. This action, so common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly in the Southern portion of the United States, died out after World War II, with only a few isolated incidents, roundly disparaged, revealing the last gasp of the Lynch Law.

Perhaps the exact mechanisms of lynching culture do not exist, features of a bygone society, more rural, prejudiced, and violent than that which replaced it. Yet the attitudes have never left the consciousness of many Americans. On the chyrons of the nightly news and splashed across front pages of newspapers, accused criminals are only treated as such out of formality. In actuality, the tone of the reports reveals that the poor soul accused of a crime is assumed to be found guilty once the proper processes of the judicial system have run their course. Through a nod to a presumption of innocence and unwavering fidelity to the slow march of the courts, any sensible citizen can congratulate themselves that they are well beyond their ancestors, whether by blood or thought, who invoked the lynch law.

In actuality, a person can be arrested on the most base of suspicions, that they have the same vague hairstyle, shirt color, or peculiar mannerism of suspect’s description given by a witness. Then this poor soul will have to be questioned by any number of detectives, who look for the slightest pause, tic, or odd gaze. And heaven help him should he forget where he was for some small sliver of time. At that point, he is all but done for in front of the criminal justice system, being as he is with some apparent similarity to the description of the suspect, no alibi, and the accusations of police and prosecutors. While he is exceedingly lucky not to have to worry about being taken out of his cell and murdered underneath a large tree, he is still shunted forward to a removal from society after his placement in a labyrinthine prison system.

The author's attitude toward the criminal justice system is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

happy with the progess that has been made in rooting out prejudicial factors

disturbed by the reemergence of a seemingly eliminated practice

elated by the use of fair and equal practices

angered by the manner in which lynching was eradicated

angry with ongoing problems that are not being handled

Correct answer:

angry with ongoing problems that are not being handled

Explanation:

The author has very few positives to say about the criminal justice system anywhere throughout the passage. While the author does seem pleased lynching is no longer used, there are still numerous issues the author highlights with the criminal justice system. Due to the way these issues are being discussed in the passage, the author's attitude is best defined as being angry with the criminal justice system.

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