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LSAT Reading Comp Outlines for Humanities

This is the second article in a series about LSAT Reading Comp Humanities passages. If you are reading this article before seeing the passage we are discussing, please read the first article in the series before continuing. The series includes:

LSAT Reading Comp Outlines for Humanities

Let’s start at the most logical place, the first paragraph:

lsat reading comp outlines for humanities 

Some humanities passages start with this sort of fluffy introduction. This paragraph is simply setting the stage for the topic of the rest of the passage. We get a topic tip-off in the phrase “relatively little study on the question…” which seems to be saying that since there’s been little writing about what follows before, this passage will take on the duty of exploring it. The next sentence, then, spells out what the passage will be about (of course, after we read the paragraph, we underlined the phrase as a reminder):

“…how and to what degree ethics in one profession clash with the ethics of another, or with the generally accepted societal ethics.”

A more simple paraphrase of topic, scope and purpose and a guess of the passages main idea might sound like:

Topic: Ethics

Scope and Purpose: To answer the question of how and to what degree professional ethics clash with societal ethics

Main idea: The ethics of someone’s job might clash with society’s ethics.

Carry your guess at the main idea and topic with you as you quickly evaluate the remaining paragraphs for their basic topics.

LSAT Reading Comp Outline: Second Paragraph

Continuing with the second paragraph:

lsat reading comp outlines for humanities

Just as you anticipated, author is starting to answer the question “how and to what degree do professional ethics conflict with societal ethics,” with some specific examples. Does it matter if you’re familiar with the Hippocratic oath, with patient confidentiality or even with college professors? Of course not. What’s important is that you know why the author mentions them (as examples of differing sets of ethics) and where to find them later if you’re asked about them.

After reading the paragraph, you might underline the following”

  • “Consider the example of medical ethics.”
  • “Hippocrates”
  • “college professor”

The paragraph uses medical ethics as an example of conflicts in professional and societal ethics. Underline Hippocrates and college professor so you can find them in a hurry if you need to.

Your paraphrase might be:

P2: Medical ethics is an example of a contrast between professional and societal ethics.

LSAT Reading Comp Outline: Third Paragraph

 Now moving to the third paragraph:

lsat reading comp outlines for humanities

The author now gives another set of examples of a clash between professional and societal ethics, this time involving “…the pursuit of profit” which we’ve underlined. The rest of the passage, while interesting, is really just more examples of ethical standards in conflict. You might note that the author seems to indicate the clash is even more extreme in the pursuit of profit than in medical ethics. In the examples from medical ethics paragraph, the professions only seemed to differ in a matter of degree, the professions in this paragraph seem to actually be in conflict with other elements of society.

What do you do with Durkheim? Who is Durkheim? Who really cares? Durkheim is another detail used in support for the argument that professional ethical systems can be in conflict with society’s ethics. Underline Durkheim in case you get asked later and move right along.

Your paraphrase for the passage might be:

P3: The conflict is possibly even greater when it involves the pursuit of profit.

LSAT Reading Comp Outline: Fourth Paragraph 

Finally, we paraphrase the final paragraph and form our outline:

lsat reading comp outlines for humanities 

Again, more examples of professional ethics (particularly with regard to free trade and the pursuit of profit) in conflict with societal ethics. The author tosses in a kind of summary phrase, “…moral values are … shaped by economic and political factors…” to emphasize the priority that professional ethics has taken on in contrast with cultural ethics.

Your paraphrase of this paragraph might read:

P4: The ethics of free trade conflict with societal ethics and are very influential.

So putting all of our paraphrases together for outline we get:

P1: The ethics of someone’s job might clash with society’s ethics.

P2: Medical ethics is an example of a contrast between professional and societal ethics.

P3: The conflict is possibly even greater when it involves the pursuit of profit.

P4: The ethics of free trade conflict with societal ethics and are very influential.

Main idea (refined): Professional ethics, especially involved in the pursuit of free trade and profit, conflict with traditional values and are at least as influential to our attitudes.

Now let’s review LSAT Humanities Passage Questions.

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