LSAT Reading : Recognizing Details of Law Passages

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Example Question #1 : Recognizing Details Of 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 of the following is NOT a penalty that a Tier 3 country might be subject to?

Possible Answers:

Being punished by the World Bank 

Withdrawal of non-trade related foreign assistance

U.S. opposition to assistance from the International Monetary Fund

Reduction in funding for educational programs

Withdrawal of funding for cultural exchange programs

Correct answer:

Being punished by the World Bank 

Explanation:

While one of the potential consequences of being a Tier 3 country is that the U.S. may pressure the World Bank to limit assistance, the World Bank would not itself punish a Tier 3 country of its own accord. Therefore, the correct answer is:

Being punished by the World Bank 

Example Question #2 : Recognizing Details Of 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.

The author mentions that U.S. missions regularly meet with foreign officials for all of the reasons EXCEPT:

Possible Answers:

To offer insight as to how data is collected

To help cast the TIPS Report in a positive light

To demonstrate that the U.S. is willing to engage in dialgoue with other countries

To demonstrate a willingness on the part of the United States to cooperate with other countries

To suggest that the TIPS Report is politically biased

Correct answer:

To suggest that the TIPS Report is politically biased

Explanation:

The author mentions that U.S. missions regularly meet with foreign officials in order to cast the TIPS Report in a positive light, to show a willingness on part of the U.S. to engage in a dialogue and cooperate with other countries, and to offer insight as to how data is collected. The only answer choice that does not reflect this mission is:

To suggest that the TIPS Report is politically biased. 

Example Question #97 : Law

Adapted from The Path of Law, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1897)

When we study law we are not studying a mystery but a well known profession. We are studying what we shall want in order to appear before judges, or to advise people in such a way as to keep them out of court. The reason why it is a profession, why people will pay lawyers to argue for them or to advise them, is that in societies like ours the command of the public force is intrusted to the judges in certain cases, and the whole power of the state will be put forth, if necessary, to carry out their judgments and decrees. People want to know under what circumstances and how far they will run the risk of coming against what is so much stronger than themselves, and hence it becomes a business to find out when this danger is to be feared. The object of our study, then, is prediction, the prediction of the incidence of the public force through the instrumentality of the courts.

The means of the study are a body of reports, of treatises, and of statutes, in this country and in England, extending back for six hundred years, and now increasing annually by hundreds. In these sibylline leaves are gathered the scattered prophecies of the past upon the cases in which the axe will fall. These are what properly have been called the oracles of the law. Far the most important and pretty nearly the whole meaning of every new effort of legal thought is to make these prophecies more precise, and to generalize them into a thoroughly connected system. The process is one, from a lawyer's statement of a case, eliminating as it does all the dramatic elements with which his client's story has clothed it, and retaining only the facts of legal import, up to the final analyses and abstract universals of theoretic jurisprudence. The reason why a lawyer does not mention that his client wore a white hat when he made a contract, while Mrs. Quickly would be sure to dwell upon it along with the parcel gilt goblet and the sea-coal fire, is that he foresees that the public force will act in the same way whatever his client had upon his head. It is to make the prophecies easier to be remembered and to be understood that the teachings of the decisions of the past are put into general propositions and gathered into textbooks, or that statutes are passed in a general form. The primary rights and duties with which jurisprudence busies itself again are nothing but prophecies. One of the many evil effects of the confusion between legal and moral ideas, about which I shall have something to say in a moment, is that theory is apt to get the cart before the horse, and consider the right or the duty as something existing apart from and independent of the consequences of its breach, to which certain sanctions are added afterward. But, as I shall try to show, a legal duty so called is nothing but a prediction that if a man does or omits certain things he will be made to suffer in this or that way by judgment of the court; and so of a legal right.

The number of our predictions when generalized and reduced to a system is not unmanageably large. They present themselves as a finite body of dogma which may be mastered within a reasonable time. It is a great mistake to be frightened by the ever-increasing number of reports. The reports of a given jurisdiction in the course of a generation take up pretty much the whole body of the law, and restate it from the present point of view. We could reconstruct the corpus from them if all that went before were burned.

Which of the following best captures the primary point of the final paragraph?

Possible Answers:

It is not necessary to learn every single court decision, statute, or legal determination that has been issued in the last 600 years, as the relevent issues are recapitulated and reinterpreted regularly.

The body of law, in its statutes, principles, and decisions, is increasing at such a rate that anyone who would hope to master it must constantly "run to stay in place;" by the time a practicioner has digested some part of the legal corpus, new decisions and statutes have supplanted what was learned.

New cases merely rehash and go over old issues in ways an experienced practicioner will have seen before. As such, one need not study old decisions and principles, as newer ones present them in exactly the same way.

The body of law is ever-increasing, with courts adding to it by the moment; as such, it is impossible to ever truly learn the whole of the law in the course of a single lifetime.

As laws are valid only in particular jurisdictions, and legal principles are derrived from these laws, it therefore follows that legal principles are valid only in certain jurisdictions; thus, while the body of law worldwide might seem overwhelming, one need only learn the laws of the jurisdictions in which one practices, and likewise only the principles that can be deduced from them.

Correct answer:

It is not necessary to learn every single court decision, statute, or legal determination that has been issued in the last 600 years, as the relevent issues are recapitulated and reinterpreted regularly.

Explanation:

The final paragraph claims that, while the already overwhelming body of law in its statutes and decisions is growing by the moment at a rate nobody could ever hope to keep up with, mastering every single detail of the centuries-old corpus is not necessary as the main issues are reinterpreted in ways relevent to contemporary society in every generation. The credited response most closely matches this point in its details, capturing not only the overwhelming size of the legal corpus and its inexorable increase, but also the nature of how it is recapitulated in every generation and the practical consequences for legal practice.

Example Question #4 : Recognizing Details Of 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.

The author characterizes the act of "innovation" as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

The key to maintaining a stable government

The key feature of any creative work

A powerful and productive force in society

A pleasant, but not ultimately practical or useful, endeavor

The result of selfishness and narrow-mindedness

Correct answer:

The result of selfishness and narrow-mindedness

Explanation:

In the passage, the author characterizes "the spirit of innovation [as] generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views," or, in other words, the result of selfishness and narrow-mindedness. The author advocates for a focus on tradition and the conservation of values and culture over active attempts to innovate and change, as these attempts, he believes, will alter the "natural" path of England and people in general. 

The author does not consider innovation to be practical, nor does he make any claims about how pleasant or enjoyable a thing it may be.

The author is not specifically concerned with artistic works in this passage, nor the potential role innovation may play in them. 

The author considers active attempts at innovation as fundamentally destabilizing and unproductive.

Example Question #51 : Analyzing 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.

Why does the author of this essay believe there is little value in trying to determine the character of an individual by asking the individual's closest friends?

Possible Answers:

Because the character of an individual is impossible to determine from an analysis of the people around him

Because people never reveal the worst of themselves to those whose opinions they value

Because an individual’s closest friends are inclined to lie for him or her

Because an individual can manipulate his or her closest friends so they paint a favorable picture of him or her

Because when people do terrible things, they are unlikely to confide in anyone, let alone their closest friends.

Correct answer:

Because people never reveal the worst of themselves to those whose opinions they value

Explanation:

This question could be answered either through attention to detail or understanding the primary argument made by the author. Part of the primary argument of the author is that it is better to ask people who are held in low esteem by the individual for their opinions on his or her character because people reveal the worst of themselves to people about whom they do not care. So, we can conclude that people never reveal the worst of themselves to those whose opinions they value. Evidence that directly states this point can also be found, such as when the author says, “his nearest friends and acquaintances, and the authorities. Before all of these nobody shows himself as he is, because the most honest man will show himself before people in whose judgment he has an interest at least as good as, if not better than he is—that is fundamental to the general egoistic essence of humanity.”

Example Question #52 : Analyzing 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.

Which of these statements best summarizes why the author believes there is little value in trying to determine the character of an individual from questioning the authorities?

Possible Answers:

Authorities are naturally deceitful and malicious.

Authorities have a vested interest in seeing the individual found guilty.

Authorities can only tell you of the times someone has done something wrong or illegal.

Authorities are inclined towards painting an overly negative opinion of someone.

The authorities seek to work against the judge’s mission of determining the truth.

Correct answer:

Authorities can only tell you of the times someone has done something wrong or illegal.

Explanation:

Several of these answer choices could be considered correct, but it is important to note that the question asks which of these statements best summarizes the author’s opinion. So, we must take the answer choice for which there is the most direct evidence in the text. The author plainly states, “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.” So, we can determine that the author believes the problem with determining the value of an individual’s character from the authorities is that they have little to say about the individual other than the previous times when he or she has transgressed the law. It is reasonably to say that the author would agree with the following answers: “Authorities are inclined towards painting an overly negative opinion of someone,” “Authorities have a vested interest in seeing the individual found guilty,” and “The authorities seek to work against the judge’s mission of determining the truth"; however, all these require various degrees of inference to be made, unlike the correct answer, "Authorities can only tell you of the times someone has done something wrong or illegal."

Example Question #53 : Analyzing 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.

What is the “general essence of humanity” as described by the author in the third paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Attentiveness and thoughtfulness

Self-interest and preservation

Deception and dishonesty

Recklessness and selfishness

Kindness and warmth

Correct answer:

Self-interest and preservation

Explanation:

The author describes the “general essence of humanity” as “egotism.” We can combine that with the conclusions reached by the author in the body of text that surrounds this excerpt—“Before all of these nobody shows himself as he is, because the most honest man will show himself before people in whose judgment he has an interest at least as good as, if not better than he is—that is fundamental to the general egoistic essence of humanity, which seeks at least to avoid reducing its present welfare.” We may then conclude that the author believes the general essence of humanity is “self-interest and self-preservation." It might perhaps be reasonable to determine that the author believes the general essence of humanity to be “deception and dishonesty,” seeing as how he is discussing how people hide certain parts of themselves from those who are close to them, but it is more accurate to say that the author believes that that “deception” is undertaken because of mankind’s general egotism and instinct towards self-preservation.

Example Question #8 : Recognizing Details Of 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.

Why does the author believe that many witnesses begin their testimony with qualifiers like “I believe that . . .”?

Possible Answers:

All of the provided reasons are correct. 

None of the provided reasons are correct.

Because many witnesses are not exactly sure what they have or have not seen

So as to insure themselves against being proved incorrect

To try and win over the support of the judge and jury by seeming humble and contrite

Correct answer:

So as to insure themselves against being proved incorrect

Explanation:

The author plainly states his understanding of why many witnesses begin their testimony with “I believe that . . .” when he says, "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." Witnesses wish to protect themselves from seeming incorrect to a more well-versed individual, not because they actually doubt their own words that much. 

Example Question #54 : Analyzing 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.

Which of these most clearly describes what the author believes happens to “conscientious and sanguine” people when subjected to intense questioning?

Possible Answers:

They are inclined to become tentative. 

They are certain to try to deceive the judge.

They remain steady throughout questioning. 

They feel more confident in their testimony.

They can become angry and bellicose. 

Correct answer:

They are inclined to become tentative. 

Explanation:

In context, the author is describing the fact that “conscientious and sanguine” people are particularly subject to having the certainty of their testimony undermined. The author says, “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.”  The author conveys that these people are inclined to become “uncertain,” which is a synonym of “tentative.”

Example Question #55 : Analyzing 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.

Which of these is NOT a reason given by the author as to why the testimony of witnesses is subject to uncertainty?

Possible Answers:

The domineering nature of lawyers and judges causes witnesses to acquiesce to their strength of character.

Witnesses are likely to already doubt the exact authenticity of what they have seen.

All of these answers are reasons given by the author. 

The realities of being in court are apt to make witness’ words seem of great significance.

Witnesses are prone to exaggeration that is quickly and easily disproved. 

Correct answer:

Witnesses are prone to exaggeration that is quickly and easily disproved. 

Explanation:

To answer this question, it is best to read carefully and try to eliminate one answer choice at a time. Firstly, the author states “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,” which tells us that the author believes a witness is likely to already doubt the authenticity of what he or she has seen. In addition, the author declares, “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.” This reveals to us that the realities of being in court are apt to make the witness’ words seem of great significance and that the domineering nature of lawyers and judges causes witnesses to acquiesce. The author does not mention that witnesses are prone to exaggeration and certainly does not suggest that such exaggeration is quickly and easily disproved.

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