LSAT Reading : Inferences About Authorial Opinions and Beliefs in Social Science Passages

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Example Question #11 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

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?

Which one of the following best describes the author's attitude toward religion?

Possible Answers:

Preferring a more orthodox orientation toward the subject

Reverential towards its more traditional aspects

Dismissive of people who are religious

Annoyed by its inherently confusing nature

Fascinated by it as a subject of inquiry

Correct answer:

Fascinated by it as a subject of inquiry

Explanation:

While the author of this passage is certainly not enthralled by religion, particularly its more traditional elements, he is somewhat respectful of "religion" as a concept. What most intrigues the author is religion's complexity and the way it can be defined on a number of different levels. This indicates that the author appreciates religion as a subject of inquiry.

Example Question #11 : 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 passage provides evidence to suggest that the author would be most likely to assent to which one of the following proposals?

Possible Answers:

Majorian should have been more lax in trying to increase the numbers of his citizens.

There should have been allowances made for adultery.

The Romans displayed values and principles when they chose to demolish older buildings and monuments.

Majorian was too harsh towards the magistrates.

People had no right to utilize the decaying buildings for building materials.

Correct answer:

Majorian should have been more lax in trying to increase the numbers of his citizens.

Explanation:

When addressing Majorian's rules concerning repopulation, the author states that “the means which he employed to accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and perhaps exceptionable, kind.” He goes on to list some of the harsh rules instated during Majorian's rule. Perhaps if Majorian had been more lax or easygoing in his rules, the author would be more likely to assent to them. The other answers can be proven false by searching the text. The answer concerning “virtues and principles” is made false by the phrase “the degenerate Romans.”

Example Question #12 : 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 argument made suggests that the author believes __________.

Possible Answers:

The Roman civilization is comparable to more modern civilizations.

The enforcement of repopulation was a mistake, as it detracted from the number of nuns.

The Vandals were equal to the Goths and the Romans in culpability.

We can learn from Majorian's mistakes.

Great buildings go towards making and defining a great culture. 

Correct answer:

Great buildings go towards making and defining a great culture. 

Explanation:

The passage argues a great deal about architecture and the city slowly falling into ruin and would suggest that a great culture is defined by its buildings more than its people. The people who destroyed the city are seen as lesser than those who tried to save it. The author does not mention functional buildings, only those we would consider magnificent. The author draws a parallel between building and culture in Majorian, who he cites as a man of “taste and spirit” who seems to be alone in the author's description of those who worked to save the city.

Example Question #14 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from an essay by Charles William Eliot in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

The first and principal contribution to which I shall ask your attention is the advance made in the United States, not in theory only, but in practice, toward the abandonment of war as the means of settling disputes between nations, the substitution of discussion and arbitration, and the avoidance of armaments. If the intermittent Indian fighting and the brief contest with the Barbary corsairs be disregarded, the United States have had only four years and a quarter of international war in the one hundred and seven years since the adoption of the Constitution. Within the same period the United States have been a party to forty-seven arbitrations—being more than half of all that have taken place in the modern world. The questions settled by these arbitrations have been just such as have commonly caused wars, namely, questions of boundary, fisheries, damage caused by war or civil disturbances, and injuries to commerce. Some of them were of great magnitude, the four made under the treaty of Washington (May 8, 1871) being the most important that have ever taken place. Confident in their strength, and relying on their ability to adjust international differences, the United States have habitually maintained, by voluntary enlistment for short terms, a standing army and a fleet which, in proportion to the population, are insignificant.

The beneficent effects of this American contribution to civilization are of two sorts: in the first place, the direct evils of war and of preparations for war have been diminished; and secondly, the influence of the war spirit on the perennial conflict between the rights of the single personal unit and the powers of the multitude that constitute organized society—or, in other words, between individual freedom and collective authority—has been reduced to the lowest terms. War has been, and still is, the school of collectivism, the warrant of tyranny. Century after century, tribes, clans, and nations have sacrificed the liberty of the individual to the fundamental necessity of being strong for combined defense or attack in war. Individual freedom is crushed in war, for the nature of war is inevitably despotic. It says to the private person: "Obey without a question, even unto death; die in this ditch, without knowing why; walk into that deadly thicket; mount this embankment, behind which are men who will try to kill you, lest you should kill them." At this moment every young man in Continental Europe learns the lesson of absolute military obedience, and feels himself subject to this crushing power of militant society, against which no rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness avail anything.

In the War of Independence there was a distinct hope and purpose to enlarge individual liberty. It made possible a confederation of the colonies, and, ultimately, the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. It gave to the thirteen colonies a lesson in collectivism, but it was a needed lesson on the necessity of combining their forces to resist an oppressive external authority. The War of 1812 is properly called the Second War of Independence, for it was truly a fight for liberty and for the rights of neutrals, in resistance to the impressment of seamen and other oppressions growing out of European conflicts. The Civil War of 1861-65 was waged, on the side of the North, primarily, to prevent the dismemberment of the country, and, secondarily and incidentally, to destroy the institution of slavery. On the Northern side it therefore called forth a generous element of popular ardor in defense of free institutions.

In all this series of fightings the main motives were self-defense, resistance to oppression, the enlargement of liberty, and the conservation of national acquisitions. The war with Mexico, it is true, was of a wholly different type. That was a war of conquest, and of conquest chiefly in the interest of African slavery. It was also an unjust attack made by a powerful people on a feeble one; but it lasted less than two years, and the number of men engaged in it was at no time large. Its results contradicted the anticipations both of those who advocated and of those who opposed it. It was one of the wrongs which prepared the way for the great rebellion; but its direct evils were of moderate extent, and it had no effect on the perennial conflict between individual liberty and public power.

The ordinary causes of war between nation and nation have been lacking in America for the last century and a quarter. How many wars in the world’s history have been due to contending dynasties; how many of the most cruel and protracted wars have been due to religious strife; how many to race hatred! No one of these causes of war has been efficacious in America since the French were overcome in Canada by the English in 1759. Looking forward into the future, we find it impossible to imagine circumstances under which any of these common causes of war can take effect on the North American continent. Therefore, the ordinary motives for maintaining armaments in time of peace, and concentrating the powers of government in such a way as to interfere with individual liberty, have not been in play in the United States as among the nations of Europe, and are not likely to be. Such have been the favorable conditions under which America has made its best contribution to the progress of civilization.

The author would be most likely to describe the young men in continental Europe as __________.

Possible Answers:

incompetent, ill-educated, and doomed to a violent life and death

subject to the tyranny of warfare and significantly less free than their American counterparts

justly conditioned to fear chaos and so trained to preserve the established order

bound by centuries of tradition to sacrifice his life for the good of the state

overly religious and ignorant of scientific and philosophical developments

Correct answer:

subject to the tyranny of warfare and significantly less free than their American counterparts

Explanation:

In the conclusion of the second paragraph, the author states, “At this moment every young man in Continental Europe learns the lesson of absolute military obedience, and feels himself subject to this crushing power of militant society, against which no rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness avail anything.” From this information, and the context of the information in the sentences that precede this quotation, we may determine that the author would describe the young men in continental Europe as subject to the tyranny of warfare, and as a result, less free than their American counterparts.

Example Question #13 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Adapted from “Federalist No. 5. The Same Subject Continued (Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)” by John Jay in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in general the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. Although it seems obvious to common sense that the people of such an island should be but one nation, yet we find that they were for ages divided into three, and that those three were almost constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one another.

Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations, would not the same thing happen? Instead of their being "joined in affection" and free from all apprehension of different "interests," envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection, and the partial interests of each confederacy, instead of the general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their policy and pursuits. Hence, like most other bordering nations, they would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the constant apprehension of them.

The most sanguine advocates for three or four confederacies cannot reasonably suppose that they would long remain exactly on an equal footing in point of strength, even if it was possible to form them so at first; but, admitting that to be practicable, yet what human contrivance can secure the continuance of such equality? Whenever, and from whatever causes, it might happen, and happen it would, that any one of these nations or confederacies should rise on the scale of political importance much above the degree of her neighbors, that moment would those neighbors behold her with envy and with fear. Both those passions would lead them to countenance, if not to promote, whatever might promise to diminish her importance. She would soon begin, not only to lose confidence in her neighbors, but also to feel a disposition equally unfavorable to them. Distrust naturally creates distrust, and by nothing is good-will and kind conduct more speedily changed than by invidious jealousies and uncandid imputations, whether expressed or implied.

From these considerations it appears that those gentlemen are greatly mistaken who suppose that alliances offensive and defensive might be formed between these confederacies, and would produce that combination and union of wills of arms and of resources, which would be necessary to put and keep them in a formidable state of defense against foreign enemies.

When did the independent states, into which Britain and Spain were formerly divided, combine in such alliance, or unite their forces against a foreign enemy? The proposed confederacies will be distinct nations with different degrees of political attachment to and connection with different foreign nations. Hence it might and probably would happen that the foreign nation with whom the southern confederacy might be at war would be the one with whom the northern confederacy would be the most desirous of preserving peace and friendship. An alliance so contrary to their immediate interest would not therefore be easy to form, nor, if formed, would it be observed and fulfilled with perfect good faith.

Nay, it is far more probable that in America, as in Europe, neighboring nations, acting under the impulse of opposite interests and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found taking different sides. Considering our distance from Europe, it would be more natural for these confederacies to apprehend danger from one another than from distant nations, and therefore that each of them should be more desirous to guard against the others by the aid of foreign alliances, than to guard against foreign dangers by alliances between themselves. And here let us not forget how much more easy it is to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart. How many conquests did the Romans and others make in the characters of allies, and what innovations did they under the same character introduce into the governments of those whom they pretended to protect.

With which of these statements would the author of this passage most likely disagree?

Possible Answers:

If the United States was split into regional confederacies they would be more likely to ally with European nations against one another than they would be to work together against European rivals.

Most bordering nations naturally gravitate towards dispute and conflict.

When one nation distrusts another nation it often encourages the distrusted party to pursue an amendable and honest solution to the problems.

The split of the United States would create regions of differing strength and power.

The history of European rivalry and in-fighting offers a pertinent example to the United States.

Correct answer:

When one nation distrusts another nation it often encourages the distrusted party to pursue an amendable and honest solution to the problems.

Explanation:

You know that the author believes bordering nations gravitate towards conflict because he says, amongst other things, “Hence, like most other bordering nations, they would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the constant apprehension of them.” You also know that the author believes European history offers a relevant example to the United States because he mentions the histories of Britain, Spain, and the Romans on various occasions to support his arguments. Additionally, you know that the author believes the hypothetical regional confederacies would be more likely to work with the European nations than to work with one another because he says “Nay, it is far more probable that in America, as in Europe, neighboring nations, acting under the impulse of opposite interests and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found taking different sides.” Finally, you know that the author believes splitting the United States would create uneven regions because he says “any one of these nations or confederacies should rise on the scale of political importance much above the degree of her neighbors.“ The only answer that the author would disagree with is “When one nation distrusts another nation it often encourages the distrusted party to pursue an amendable and honest solution to the problems.” Instead, the author states his belief that “Distrust naturally creates distrust, and by nothing is good-will and kind conduct more speedily changed than by invidious jealousies and uncandid imputations, whether expressed or implied.”

Example Question #14 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Adapted from "The Moral Leadership of the Religious Press,” a speech given in May 1893 by Susan B. Anthony

People expect too much of the press and too much of the ministers. It is the pews that make the pulpit and decide what the pulpit shall be, and it is the constituents and subscribers for the religious papers that decide what the religious paper shall be, and therefore when you tell me that a minister is thus and so in opposing any great moral reform, or that the religious press and newspaper is thus and so, what do you tell me? You tell me that the majority of the people in the pews indorse that minister, that the majority of the church members who read that paper won't allow that editor to speak anything on the question. That is all. I am glad that the day is changing, and that the people are feeling that the press is a little laggard and want to whip it up a little.

Take the specific question of suffrage. It is but recently that the religious press has begun to speak in tolerably friendly terms in relation to us. Take the great Methodist Episcopal church; think of its having an editor chosen by the general conference, Mr. Buckley, denounce the suffrage movement as something born—not of heaven, and yet if the vast majority of the members of the Methodist church were in favor of the enfranchisement of women and felt that it was a religious duty of the church to take its position in that direction, and of the religious newspaper, the organ of the society, to take position, Mr. Buckley would either be born again or else he would be slipped out of that editorial chair. He would be born again. He would believe in suffrage before he would lose his position.

I am not irreverent. I look to the public press. I look to the president of an organization, to the exponents of any society, religious or otherwise, as to the hands of the clock. They tell the time of day. Representing the suffrage movement, I stand to express the idea how high the tide has risen with the majority of the suffrage men and women of the day, and that is what a leader can do and but little more. We do not get very much ahead. We call ourselves leaders, but generally there are some down in the ranks a good deal ahead of us if they only had power to speak. I wish we had a great woman's rights press that knew how to speak the deepest and holiest thought of the best women of this country on the question of religious liberty, of political liberty, and of all liberty. And next to having such a press of our own is of course having the press of all the different denominations, of all the different political parties, of all the different interests in the country, come as near as possible to expressing our idea; and therefore, when I take up the Western Methodist paper, I forget what its name is, when I take up the Advance, when I take up any of the Western religious newspapers I am made to feel that their editors have been born again into this recognition of the principle of equality of rights in the church for the women as well as for the men. I suppose the New York Observer and the New York Advocate and so on will have to lag behind until they are moved over on the ferry boat. However much they hold back, they have to go with the boat. I suppose these old papers will hang back just as long as they possibly can.

Based on the ideas in the passage, the author would be mostly likely to support which of the following actions?

Possible Answers:

A readership writing letters that demand a newspaper change its coverage of issues such as temperance and suffrage

A newspaper reporter defying her editors and writing only about issues such as temperance and suffrage

A church congregation dismissing its appointed minister in favor of an elected one

A pastor choosing to support the suffrage movement based exclusively on the feedback of his parishioners

A newspaper reporter defying her editors and reporting only the issues that her readers care about

Correct answer:

A readership writing letters that demand a newspaper change its coverage of issues such as temperance and suffrage

Explanation:

Susan B. Anthony writes, “I am glad that the day is changing, and that the people are feeling that the press is a little laggard and want to whip it up a little.” By implication, she would most likely support an action that involves a readership trying to spur a newspaper to cover more pressing, progressive social issues.

Example Question #15 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Adapted from "The Moral Leadership of the Religious Press,” a speech given in May 1893 by Susan B. Anthony

People expect too much of the press and too much of the ministers. It is the pews that make the pulpit and decide what the pulpit shall be, and it is the constituents and subscribers for the religious papers that decide what the religious paper shall be, and therefore when you tell me that a minister is thus and so in opposing any great moral reform, or that the religious press and newspaper is thus and so, what do you tell me? You tell me that the majority of the people in the pews indorse that minister, that the majority of the church members who read that paper won't allow that editor to speak anything on the question. That is all. I am glad that the day is changing, and that the people are feeling that the press is a little laggard and want to whip it up a little.

Take the specific question of suffrage. It is but recently that the religious press has begun to speak in tolerably friendly terms in relation to us. Take the great Methodist Episcopal church; think of its having an editor chosen by the general conference, Mr. Buckley, denounce the suffrage movement as something born—not of heaven, and yet if the vast majority of the members of the Methodist church were in favor of the enfranchisement of women and felt that it was a religious duty of the church to take its position in that direction, and of the religious newspaper, the organ of the society, to take position, Mr. Buckley would either be born again or else he would be slipped out of that editorial chair. He would be born again. He would believe in suffrage before he would lose his position.

I am not irreverent. I look to the public press. I look to the president of an organization, to the exponents of any society, religious or otherwise, as to the hands of the clock. They tell the time of day. Representing the suffrage movement, I stand to express the idea how high the tide has risen with the majority of the suffrage men and women of the day, and that is what a leader can do and but little more. We do not get very much ahead. We call ourselves leaders, but generally there are some down in the ranks a good deal ahead of us if they only had power to speak. I wish we had a great woman's rights press that knew how to speak the deepest and holiest thought of the best women of this country on the question of religious liberty, of political liberty, and of all liberty. And next to having such a press of our own is of course having the press of all the different denominations, of all the different political parties, of all the different interests in the country, come as near as possible to expressing our idea; and therefore, when I take up the Western Methodist paper, I forget what its name is, when I take up the Advance, when I take up any of the Western religious newspapers I am made to feel that their editors have been born again into this recognition of the principle of equality of rights in the church for the women as well as for the men. I suppose the New York Observer and the New York Advocate and so on will have to lag behind until they are moved over on the ferry boat. However much they hold back, they have to go with the boat. I suppose these old papers will hang back just as long as they possibly can.

Which of the following criticisms of a pastor would the author be most likely to dismiss as unfounded?

Possible Answers:

He believes privately owned publishing presses should be bought up by churches for the sake of proselytization.

He believes alcohol should be allowed in moderation.

He believes churches alone should dictate civil law in the United States. 

He bases his sermons on the topics that his parishioners want to hear about rather than the topics that will be most beneficial to them.

He believes women should be allowed to vote, but only if they are married to a land-owning man.

Correct answer:

He bases his sermons on the topics that his parishioners want to hear about rather than the topics that will be most beneficial to them.

Explanation:

In the first paragraph, the author writes, “People expect too much of the press and too much of the ministers. It is the pews that make the pulpit and decide what the pulpit shall be, and it is the constituents and subscribers for the religious papers that decide what the religious paper shall be, and therefore when you tell me that a minister is thus and so in opposing any great moral reform, or that the religious press and newspaper is thus and so, what do you tell me?” It is implied that the author understands why a pastor would change his focus to reflect his parishioners’ preferences; it is less likely that she would look upon the other charges favorably.

Example Question #16 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Adapted from The Family Among the Australian Aborigines: a Sociological Study by Bronislaw Malinowski (1913)

It seems beyond doubt that in the aboriginal society the husband exercised almost complete authority over his wife; she was entirely in his hands and he might ill-treat her, provided he did not kill her. Out of our thirty statements, in six cases (Kurnai, Bangerang, Lower Murray tribes, according to Bonney, Geawe-Gal, Port Jackson tribes, North-west Central Queenslanders) the absolute authority of the husband is explicitly affirmed. We read in them either the bare statement that the husband had an absolute power over his family; or, in the better of them, we are more exactly informed that he had only to abstain from inflicting death on his wife. It was the latter's kinsman who would avenge her (Kurnai, Bangerang, North-west Central Queenslanders). It is difficult to ascertain in what form society would interfere with the husband if he transgressed the limits of his legal authority, i. e. killed his wife. Curr informs us that the woman's relatives would avenge her death. Howitt says that there would ensue a blood feud, which comes nearly to the same. It is very probable that the woman's kin retained some rights of protection. The remaining statements implicitly declare that the husband's authority was very extensive. (Encounter Bay tribes according to Meyer; New South Wales tribes according to Hodgson; Port Stephens tribes according to R. Dawson; Arunta; Herbert River tribes; Queenslanders according to Palmer; Moreton Bay tribes according to J. D. Lang; South-Western tribes according to Salvado; West Australians according to Grey.) It is clear that wherever we read of excessive harshness and bad treatment, wounds, blows inflicted on women, the husband must possess the authority to do it; in other words, he does not find any social barrier preventing him from ill-treatment. Especially as, in these statements, such ill-treatment is mentioned to be the rule and not an exception. In two statements we can gather no information on this point. According to the statement of J. Dawson on the West Victoria tribes, the husband's authority appears strictly limited by the potential intervention of the chief, who could even divorce the woman if she complained. But Curr warns us against Dawson's information concerning the chief and his power. Curr's arguments appear to be very conclusive. Too much weight cannot be attached, therefore, to Dawson's exceptional statement. Discarding it, we see that we have on this point fairly clear information. We may assume that society interfered but seldom with the husband, in fact, only in the extreme case of his killing his wife. Six statements are directly, and the remainder indirectly, in favor of this view, and the only one contradictory is not very trustworthy.

It can be inferred from the passage that the author views Australian aboriginal marriage practices as __________.

Possible Answers:

morally questionable

a model of behavior in marriages

in need of some changes

culturally underdeveloped

worthy of respect and inquiry

Correct answer:

worthy of respect and inquiry

Explanation:

The overall tone of the passage is extremely balanced and fair, as the author is essentially providing a detailed account of what is found in aboriginal Australian marriages. This means that the author never takes an extremely strong stand on aboriginal Australian society; however, the fact that the author does write in such detail about Australian aboriginal marriage practices indicates he is certainly interested in them and finds them worthy of study.

Example Question #17 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Adapted from “Darwinism and History" by J. B. Bury in Evolution in Modern Thought by Haeckel, Thomson, Weisman, and Others (1917 ed.)

The conception of the history of man as a causal development meant the elevation of historical inquiry to the dignity of a science. Just as the study of bees cannot become scientific so long as the student's interest in them is only to procure honey or to derive moral lessons from the labors of "the little busy bee," so the history of human societies cannot become the object of pure scientific investigation so long as man estimates its value in pragmatical scales. Nor can it become a science until it is conceived as lying entirely within a sphere in which the law of cause and effect has unreserved and unrestricted dominion. On the other hand, once history is envisaged as a causal process, which contains within itself the explanation of the development of humanity from its primitive state to the point that it has reached, such a process necessarily becomes the object of scientific investigation and the interest in it is scientific curiosity.

At the same time, the instruments were sharpened and refined. Here Wolf, a philologist with historical instinct, was a pioneer. His Prolegomena to Homer (1795) announced new modes of attack. Historical investigation was soon transformed by the elaboration of new methods.

"Progress" involves a judgment of value, which is not involved in the conception of history as a "genetic" process. It is also an idea distinct from that of evolution. Nevertheless, it is closely related to the ideas that revolutionized history at the beginning of the last century; it swam into people's ken simultaneously; and it helped effectively to establish the notion of history as a continuous process and to emphasize the significance of time. Passing over earlier anticipations, I may point to a Discours of Turgot (1750), where history is presented as a process in which "the total mass of the human race" "marches continually though sometimes slowly to an ever increasing perfection." That is a clear statement of the conception which Turgot's friend Condorcet elaborated in the famous work, published in 1795, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain. This work first treated with explicit fullness the idea to which a leading role was to fall in the ideology of the nineteenth century. Condorcet's book reflects the triumphs of the Tiers état, whose growing importance had also inspired Turgot; it was the political changes in the eighteenth century that led to the doctrine, emphatically formulated by Condorcet, that the masses are the most important element in the historical process. I dwell on this because, though Condorcet had no idea of evolution, the predominant importance of the masses was the assumption that made it possible to apply evolutional principles to history. And it enabled Condorcet himself to maintain that the history of civilization, a progress still far from being complete, was a development conditioned by general laws.

The assimilation of society to an organism, which was a governing notion in the school of Savigny, and the conception of progress, combined to produce the idea of an organic development, in which the historian has to determine the central principle or leading character. This is illustrated by the apotheosis of democracy in Tocqueville's Démocratie en Amérique, where the theory is maintained that "the gradual and progressive development of equality is at once the past and the future of the history of men." The same two principles are combined in the doctrine of Spencer (who held that society is an organism, though he also contemplated its being what he calls a "super-organic aggregate"), that social evolution is a progressive change from militarism to industrialism.

It can be assumed from the author's frequent citation of French historians that the author views French historians as __________.

Possible Answers:

problematic thinkers when it comes to historical theory

not as important as thinkers from the English-speaking world

only worthy of study if they are among the absolute best in the field

highly interesting because of the particular flaws they demonstrate in their study of history

some of the most significant individuals in the field

Correct answer:

some of the most significant individuals in the field

Explanation:

The author cites French thinkers almost exclusively, and even more importantly, he always cites French works by their original titles without translation. This indicates that not only is the author extremely well-acquainted with the array of French historians, but that he is also quite fond of a wide variety of them. His lack of references to other historians indicates that he generally prefers the work of French historians.

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Authorial Opinions And Beliefs In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from “Why We Are Militant” by Emmeline Pankhurst (1913)

I know that in your minds there are questions like these; you are saying, "Woman Suffrage is sure to come; the emancipation of humanity is an evolutionary process, and how is it that some women, instead of trusting to that evolution, instead of educating the masses of people of their country, instead of educating their own sex to prepare them for citizenship, how is it that these militant women are using violence and upsetting the business arrangements of the country in their undue impatience to attain their end?"

…Well, I say that the time is long past when it became necessary for women to revolt in order to maintain their self respect in Great Britain. The women who are waging this war are women who would fight, if it were only for the idea of liberty— if it were only that they might be free citizens of a free country— I myself would fight for that idea alone. But we have, in addition to this love of freedom, intolerable grievances to redress.

We do not feel the weight of those grievances in our own persons. I think it is very true that people who are crushed by personal wrongs are not the right people to fight for reform. The people who can fight best who have happy lives themselves, the fortunate ones. At any rate, in our revolution it is the happy women, the fortunate women, the women who have drawn prizes in the lucky bag of life, in the shape of good fathers, good husbands and good brothers, they are the women who are fighting this battle. They are fighting it for the sake of others more helpless than themselves, and it is of the grievances of those helpless ones that I want to say a few words to-night to make you understand the meaning of our campaign…

Those grievances are so pressing that, so far from it being a duty to be patient and to wait for evolution, in thinking of those grievances the idea of patience is intolerable. We feel that patience is something akin to crime when our patience involves continued suffering on the part of the oppressed.

…All my life I have tried to understand why it is that men who value their citizenship as their dearest possession seem to think citizenship ridiculous when it is to be applied to the women of their race. And I find an explanation, and it is the only one I can think of. It came to me when I was in a prison cell, remembering how I had seen men laugh at the idea of women going to prison… to men women are not human beings like themselves. Some men think we are superhuman; they put us on pedestals; they revere us; they think we are too fine and too delicate to come down into the hurly-burly of life. Other men think us sub-human; they think we are a strange species unfortunately having to exist for the perpetuation of the race. They think that we are fit for drudgery, but that in some strange way our minds are not like theirs, our love for great things is not like theirs, and so we are a sort of sub-human species.

Based on the passage, the author believes all of the following except __________.

Possible Answers:

The author is certain that an "evolutionary process" will never grant women citizenship.

The author is unapologetic about her militant actions.

The author believes that some men view women as useful only for procreation.

The author believes that suffrage is necessary for liberty.

Correct answer:

The author is certain that an "evolutionary process" will never grant women citizenship.

Explanation:

The author is not certain that an evolutionary process will never grant women citizenship, only that patience is unacceptable in the face of grievances and suffering ("so far from it being a duty to be patient and to wait for evolution, in thinking of those grievances the idea of patience is intolerable"). The other answer choices are all reflected in the passage. The author clearly believes that some men view women as useful only for procreation ("they think we are a strange species unfortunately having to exist for the perpetuation of the race") and that suffrage is necessary for liberty ("The women who are waging this war are women who would fight, if it were only for the idea of liberty— if it were only that they might be free citizens of a free country"). Further, she is unapologetic about her militant actions, which she justifies throughout this excerpt. 

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