Environmentalist: An increased number of oil spills and the consequent damage to the environment indicate the need...

AndrewArabie on April 18, 2023

Doesn't D just strengthen a premise?

The environmentalist argues that: P: Since the oil industry is unwilling to further regulate itself C: it falls upon the government to do so. In particular to require double hulls and to assume financial responsibility. The industry rep addresses one of those demands and says double hulls are not feasible because they are not safe and the cost would be too burdensome for the industry and consumers. C: the industry alone should be responsible for setting safety standards To strengthen the industry reps argument we need to either address the second point of the environmentalist (assuming financial responsibility for accidents) or provide another reason altogether why only the oil industry should set its own safety standards. All answer choice D does is be specific about why double hulls are unsafe. So in my mind it only strengthens a premise. It doesn't add anything more to the industry representatives argument.

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Emil-Kunkin on April 18, 2023


D does indeed strengthen a premise, which in turn strengthens the argument of the lobbyist. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The premise "this is a safely issue" is pretty easy to attack: how much of a safety issue? How likely would said issue be to arise and how severe would it be if it happened?

If the safety issue was a .05 percent increase in the likely hood of major but non fatal crew injury this would seriously undermine the lobbyists argument.

D makes it clear that the safety issue is indeed worth considering. All policy involves trade offs. If the safety issue would mean exploding tankers, the cost of the proposal looks much greater, thus weak ongoing the idea we should adopt the proposal.

AndrewArabie on April 20, 2023

Thank you Emil. For the longest time I thought no correct answer choice would strengthen a premise so I'm trying to break that habit.

Emil-Kunkin on April 22, 2023

Quick note for future reference here

More generally, I should have noted that we can strengthen an argument by strengthening a premise WHEN THERE IS SOME DOUBT ABOUT THE PREMISE. This is a pretty important point that I completely neglected to make, and thank you for bringing this up. If we have a premise "the earth is round" we don't really have a way to strengthen that. However, if we have a premise that "given the best available methods, scientists think the earth is round" we could strengthen that by learning that the best available methods for measuring roundness are effectively foolproof. In the example from pt92 I think the premise we were strengthening was that "this change would pose a safety risk" there is some doubt about that premise. How big of a risk? How likely is something unsafe? How severe would it be?

To sum it up, a premise "drug D completely cures condition C" really doesn't have any doubt and would be hard to strengthen. However "one recent study indicates that D completely cures C" has some doubt. Methodologies? Sample size? Sample representativeness? We can only really strengthen premises with some doubt.