QUESTION TYPE: Principle – Strengthen
CONCLUSION: The manufacturer is at least partially responsible for the illnesses caused by substance T.
REASONING: The manufacturer didn’t know substance T was harmful, but it could have investigated the safety of substance T.
ANALYSIS: You may have already thought this was a good argument. Shouldn’t companies investigate the safety of substances they use? Well, that’s a principle you’re using to judge the situation. On most principle questions, you just have to say “the company was wrong not to do the thing they didn’t do”. This is the difference between “is” and “ought”. The company didn’t investigate – that’s a statement of fact. The company should have investigated – that’s a moral principle.
(The right answer is slightly different. It says you should be held accountable if the harm could have been prevented. And the manufacturer could have prevented the harm by investigating.)
Remember, you want to prove the manufacturer responsible. You want a sufficient condition for proving guilt. No wrong answer provides a sufficient condition for guilt.
- The argument isn’t talking about compensation. It’s talking about who is guilty.
- This adds a necessary condition for holding the manufacturer responsible. Necessary conditions never help prove an argument. They make it harder to hold someone responsible – there are now more conditions to fulfill.
- The manufacturer wasn’t aware of the health risks, so this doesn’t help.
- This doesn’t help us prove that the manufacturer was responsible. It just tells us a factor that isn’t relevant in determining responsibility.
- CORRECT. The illnesses were definitely preventable – the manufacturer could have investigated the health effects of substance T. This proves that the manufacturer was responsible.
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