# Formal Logic – LSAT Question

By
Greg Smith

Try this formal logic or conditional reasoning question for the LSAT:

If the novel were successful, it would be produced as a movie or adapted as a theatre script. However, this novel is not successful, therefore, we must conclude that it will neither become a movie nor will it be adapted as a theatre script.

The argument’s reasoning is flawed because the argument:

(A) fails to draw the conclusion that the novel will not both be produced as a movie and be adapted as a theatre script, rather than that it will do neither
(B) fails to explain in exactly what way the novel is unsuccessful
(C) equates the novel’s aesthetic worth with its commercial success
(D) presumes, without providing justification, that there are no further avenues for the novel other than production as a movie or adaptation as a theatre script
(E) fails to recognize that the novel’s not satisfying one sufficient condition does not preclude its satisfying a different sufficient condition for production as a movie or adaptation as a theatre script

This is a formal logic question. It uses conditional reasoning or if then statements.
For a full analysis of IF THEN statements and formal logic for logical reasoning questions see our free LSAT course: Formal Logic Tutorial
And here Practice Questions

Let’s analyze our stimulus.
Our first premise is: IF the novel is successful THEN movie or script
Our second premise: This novel is NOT successful.
Conclusion: NOT movie nor script

This is flawed formal logic. The mistake here is that we have reversed our IF THEN statement. As you can see from the tutorials in formal logic Formal Logic Tutorial you cannot reverse your IF THEN statement except as a contra positive. The contra positive of our IF THEN statement is as follows:

Original Statement: IF the novel is successful THEN movie or script
Contra-Positive: IF there is NOT a movie or script THEN the novel was NOT successful

There is nothing else you can conclude from this original statement or premise. This means that our conclusion is a flawed conclusion. The conclusion tries to state the following:

Conclusion: IF NOT successful THEN NOT movie or script.

We cannot draw this conclusion from our original premise. By drawing this conclusion we fail to recognize that the novel could become a movie or script by some other means than success. For example, maybe all novels about children are made into movies giving us the statement IF novel is about children THEN movie. This would give us another avenue to arrive at a movie or script despite the novel not being successful.

So our correct answer choice is (E). The argument fails to recognize that the novel’s not satisfying one sufficient condition (being successful) does not preclude its satisfying a different sufficient condition (some other means such as being about children) for production as a movie or adaptation as a theatre script.

November 17, 2009

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