QUESTION TYPE: Principle – Justify
CONCLUSION: If we want to preserve any species then we should preserve all of them.
REASONING: Letting some species die might hurt other species. There’s still a lot we don’t know about relationships between living organisms.
ANALYSIS: This seems like a good argument. But it’s a “principle – justify” question. On this question type, there’s always a gap between what is true and what we ought to do.
This question has said that we should preserve species, because if we don’t then we might lose something we care about. That’s a fact: what is true. But we don’t know that we should care about all possible risks.
So, we need to look for an answer that says we should not allow such a risk.
- This sounds tempting. But this actually doesn’t matter. The conclusion was telling us what to do if it’s in our interest to protect animal species. Whether or not that is in fact in our interest doesn’t matter: the argument is just giving us a rule for what to do if we care about animals.
- The argument is telling us that we should preserve species. Preserving species is a form of action, compared to standing by and doing nothing. Yet this answer tells us not to take action.
(You might have picked this imagining that preservation is merely inaction: not cutting a forest, not polluting, etc. But species can die for reasons other than human actions. Or we might already have set some extinctions in motion that will happen automatically unless we stop them.)
- This doesn’t match the author’s reasoning at all. The author said “If we preserve any, then preserve them all!”
This answer says “it’s fine to let a bunch die, as long as keep the bare minimum necessary.”
- CORRECT. This works. The argument is saying that we should protect useless species, because it’s possible that their loss would affect useful species.
This answer therefore justifies the argument by showing that we should not allow a change if there is a possibility of harm.
- This principle says we should do the thing with the best short term consequences. But the stimulus is arguing that if some species die then other species might eventually die. (“might undermine the viability” hardly suggests a swift death.)
So the stimulus is focussed on long run consequences, unlike this answer.
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