This is an explanation for passage 3 of LSAT preptest 64, the October 2011 LSAT – the comparative passage. The passages are about evolutionary psychology. The first passage discusses whether evolutionary psychology can explain altruism. The second passage argues that evolutionary psychology may not be a correct explanation for our actions.
This section has paragraph summaries and an analysis of the passage, links to the explanations for the questions are below.
- What is evolutionary psychology? Can it explain altruism?
- Altruistic behavior can help spread your genes, if you help a relative.
- Altruism would have helped groups pass on their genes. When these groups became large and successful, individuals’ genes would still cause them to help others. We now help others even though they we are not genetically related to everyone in our large societies.
- Evolutionary psychology theorizes our genes have secret motives.
- Evolutionary psychology’s arguments seem to make sense.
- But there are many different reasons that could explain our behavior. Just because evolutionary psychology proposes a plausible explanation doesn’t mean that explanation is correct.
To succeed on the second passage (Mexican American proverbs), you had to know specific details. The difficulty on the third passage is understanding what this says (for non-science students).
I generally look over all passages after reading them the first time. I find it solidifies my understanding of the content. Something that was confusing on the first read often makes sense when you look at it again.
If you don’t understand something, you should always reread the relevant section. It’s much better than moving on to the questions without having understood what you read. The key concepts to understand here are:
- What evolutionary psychology is. (It’s the theory that our genes influence our actions. We do things that help spread our genes).
- What the main critique of evolutionary psychology is. (Just because its explanations are plausible doesn’t mean they are correct).
The second passage is more complex. The author is saying that wanting to pass on our genes could explain why we protect our children. But maybe we protect our children because we like doing it, and we’d do it even if it didn’t help our genes. Or maybe some other explanation is true.
The second author says we can only know an evolutionary explanation works if the behavior would never happen if the explanation weren’t true. And very few cases are like that.
The first author seems to be in error. They examine behavior based on whether or not it helps reproduction. If a plausible story can be made that an action helps reproduction, then the first author accepts it as true. The second author directly critiques this line of reasoning.
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