QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: We shouldn’t change natural habitats.
REASONING: Changing the environment to help endangered species hurts nonendangered species.
ANALYSIS: There are two problems with this argument:
- It doesn’t say how much harder survival will be for nonendangered species. It’s possible that saving an endangered species will only cause tiny problems for other species. That wouldn’t be so bad.
- “A habitat” refers to a specific location. It’s possible the endangered species only lives in that one location, whereas the nonendangered species lives in many habitats.
For example, imagine there is a type of rare beetle that lives only in a place called the Forest of Eternal Shadows. The forest also has a type of common sparrow, which has habitats all over the continent.
Wildlife managers decide to alter the forest to create even more shadows. This helps the beetle thrive, but the sparrow dies out. Do we care? Not really: an endangered species was saved, and the sparrow still has plenty of habitat outside of this forest.
This argument fails to consider tradeoffs: most people would agree that in either of the cases above, saving the endangered species is worth the cost. (The cost being either “it is slightly harder for other species to survive” or “the nonendangered species doesn’t live as easily in one habitat, but has many habitats elsewhere”)
- The issue wasn’t whether wildlife officials could save an endangered species. The issue was what effects that would have on other species.
- This is backwards. The author did recognize that nonendangered species could be harmed!
- The author didn’t say “saving the endangered species will destroy diversity”! They just said “saving the endangered species will hurt other species”. That’s not the same thing.
- The author didn’t say this. An answer can’t be a flaw if the author didn’t say it.
Example of flaw: This endangered mosquito variety which spreads disease is as important as this endangered variety of bee, which pollenates vital flowers and crops.
- CORRECT. Worded more simply, this answer says: “Maybe saving endangered species is more important than helping nonendangered species.”
This answer mentions a specific habitat. It’s helpful to think about what that means: consider a specific location, such as a single forest. Imagine that’s the only forest where a certain endangered species lives. If you alter the forest, you might save the endangered species, while eliminating a certain common species of sparrow from the forest.
But, the sparrow lives in other places. So altering the forest has saved the endangered species, and hasn’t affected the sparrow’s other habitats.
The author is saying: we shouldn’t do this, because we eliminated the sparrow from the forest. This answer is saying: “maybe saving the endangered species was more important”.
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