QUESTION TYPE: Necessary Assumption
CONCLUSION: It would be hard or worthless to domesticate the remaining large wild mammals.
REASONING: Past generations would have tried to domesticate every large mammal which seemed worth domesticating.
ANALYSIS: The premise of this argument is that people would have tried to domesticate any seemingly useful large mammal. Since some mammals aren’t domesticated, those animals must not have seemed useful, or have been hard to tame.
So far so good. But then the conclusion is that now, none of those species are worth domesticating, or easy to domesticate. But things change. There are at least three possible flaws here:
- With our modern techniques, maybe it’s much easier to domesticate animals now.
- Ancient peoples only tried to domesticate animals that seemed useful. The conclusion is about whether mammals are worth domesticating.
- Maybe some animals were not useful in the past, but would be useful in our modern economy.
- The argument was only about species that seemed worth domesticating. It doesn’t matter whether people tried to domesticate animals that weren’t worth domesticating.
- CORRECT. If it’s much easier to domesticate animals today, then maybe we could domesticate a few more mammals.
Negation: It is much easier to domesticate large mammal species than it was in the past.
- It doesn’t matter if some species went extinct. The conclusion is about existing species.
- Use the negation test on necessary assumption questions. The negation here is: “There isn’t always a correlation between how easy it is to domesticate an animal and how worthwhile it is.”
That has no impact on the conclusion. Why the devil would such a correlation matter? We only care about: i. can you do it? ii. Is it worth it?
- Why would this matter? We don’t care how easy it was to domesticate goats or cows.
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