The LSAT's meaning of "paradoxical"

    • July 18, 2016 at 5:34 pm #2265

      Dear Mike,
      I am now deep in the Trainer (and it’s excellent, but I digress) and I was working on Reading Comp Set 1 Drill where I ran into a question that I 100% thought I got right, and I got it wrong. Specifically, PT53, S4, Q14: I wasn’t super happy with D (“contrast the legal theories of past eras…”) but that’s what I put because it was reasonable and because I had eliminated all the other answers, including A.
      In fact, I immediately crossed-off A because of the word “paradoxical.” While the piece hinted that this practice wasn’t ideal, I thought there was nothing inherently contradictory or fundamentally illogical about studying old English common law. After checking my work off the answer key, I looked up the definition of “paradox,” and Merriam-Webster ( has this as a definition (albeit a secondary one): “a tenet contrary to received opinion.”
      Working with this definition, A works (in my mind). The “paradoxical”/received situation is the view of studying the medieval roots of common law and the “new view of the situation” is from Goodrich, i.e., it should be studied as literature. Is this why A is the right choice? If so, what are the implications of this for the definition of paradox throughout the LSAT? Or is there a completely different reason why A is right and I am just completely barking up the wrong tree?


    • July 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm #2280
      Mike Kim

      Hey Jacob —

      Thanks for your comments about the Trainer and welcome to Lsatters! —

      This is certainly a dense and challenging passage to get through —

      Just took a quick look and to me, the paradox exists between the contents of the first and second paragraphs —

      The first paragraph talks about the influence (“heavy burden”) of old laws, old cases, old law principles, etc. on common law/modern law students (to put it more plainly, they are required to study laws from long ago, and these laws from long ago determine legal language, the organization of legal subject matter, and so on). It concludes that (because old stuff plays such a big role in it) common law cannot be properly understood without considering of history.

      The second paragraph starts with “Yet” and so we know we are going to be given something that counters the first paragraph in some way — the “yet” given is that we rarely study or consider these rules with their actual history in mind.

      This is the paradoxical situation: the author says that because of the heavy influence of history on common law, history must be taken into account in order to properly understand common law; however, this history is not actually studied.

      Notice that the answer then gives a clean summary of the final paragraph, and in so doing, nicely addresses the passage as a whole —

      I hope that helps clear things up — if you have any follow-up just let me know — Mike

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