Fossil–fuel producers say that it would be prohibitively expensive to reduce levels of carbon dioxide emitted by the ...

Andrew on March 3 at 05:38PM

Answer Choice D

When I read the stimulus I knew that the answer choice would have to say that the CFC situation is a valid analog to the fossil fuel industry. I came across D and liked it at first but then saw "significantly" and it threw me off because it may not hurt the fossil fuel industry significantly more, but we don't know the kind of damage the fossil fuel industry can tolerate so if it hurts them even marginally more that may be prohibitively expensive so I went with B even though I had problems with it because at least it provides a small scale example of the conclusion. I really do think the word "significantly" messes up answer choice D. If it would have said "will not hurt the fossil fuel industry "any more" then id be comfortable with it. What makes me so frustrated with this question is that the level of scrutiny I gave to the word "significant" is exactly the kind of scrutiny required in nearly all other LR questions.

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Emil on March 7 at 01:43AM

I think there are two ways to respond to this concern. First, for a strengthener our job is not to prove that argument is right, just to make it better. You're right that there are some scenarios where D doesn't make it better- if the fossil fuel industry is currently breaking even, then even a small decrease (that might not qualify as significant) could impact them. However, we don't need to show that this is a perfect analogy, only that it is a good one. Just because there may be one case where the strengthener doesn't help we cannot throw out the many cases in which it does.

I think the second reason I like D is based on what it means to be significant. I read D to mean that there will be no noticeable difference on the fossil fuel producers from the impact on CFC producers. In this reading, D is perfect. While I think a reasonable person could read it differently, to me saying something is insignificant means that we can ignore it.

Finally, B is wrong since, as I think you probably realize, it doesn't strengthen the argument. When you are choosing between two answers, and you know one is wrong, and the other has a word you don't like in it, you can pick the one that has a word that is slightly off. There is a reasonable interpretation of the word significant that makes it a non issue, and you can absolutely use that interpretation.

Andrew on March 7 at 05:27PM

Thank you Emil. That explanation does put me at ease. I appreciate your advice.