QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: It is likely that primitive life has evolved on Europa.
REASONING: A necessary condition for life exists on Europa. (liquid water)
ANALYSIS: Necessary conditions don’t tell you anything! Here are some necessary conditions for going to law school:
- Being human
- Applying to law school
- Knowing how to read
Those are not very useful necessary conditions! Telling me that a candidate fulfills them doesn’t help prove the candidate will go to law school.
Likewise, knowing that there is water on Europa doesn’t tell us life occurred. We need a sufficient condition or a statement of probability in order to have evidence life occurred. At the very least we should rule out all other necessary conditions.
- Actually, this is true. If a condition is necessary for life, then life couldn’t evolve without it. This is not a flaw!
- CORRECT. Water is one necessary condition for life. But there could be 1,000 other necessary conditions. The author incorrectly assumes water is the only necessary condition.
- Rubbish. The argument didn’t do this! There’s no distinction between life being present on Europa and life evolving on Europa. And “if but only if” is just thrown in because it’s confusing.
Answers have to prove they’re right. Don’t give nonsensical answers the time of day.
- The argument didn’t overlook this possibility! It said “life as we know it” could only evolve with liquid water. The author wasn’t talking about water being a necessary condition for all life.
- The author didn’t do this! They said the data “strongly suggest” that liquid water is present. And then their conclusion appropriately only says “likely”. So the author isn’t saying water is definitely present and life definitely evolved.
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