This is an explanation for passage 2 of LSAT preptest 38, the October 2002 LSAT. This passage is about the types of authority used by law courts: intellectual and institutional authority.
This section has paragraph summaries and an analysis of the passage, links to the explanations for the questions are below.
- Definitions of intellectual and institutional authority. Example of legal systems, which mix both types of authority.
- Critics’ claim: courts only have institutional authority; intellectual authority doesn’t exist. Author’s rebuttal of critics.
- Critic’s rebuttal: intellectual authority is often institutional authority in disguise. Musicology example.
- Author’s final argument: sure, legal precedent is institutional authority, but it is sometimes overruled by arguments from intellectual authority.
This argument has an unusual amount of give and take. The critics are allowed to make several good points, which the argument rebuts. Be sure you know who is speaking at each point.
The overall conclusion is that intellectual authority exists and that courts do use it. But note that the author doesn’t completely disagree with critics. The critics make decent points, but they ignore the real role of intellectual authority within the law.
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