QUESTION TEXT: CEO: We have been falsely criticized for…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: We are an environmentally responsible company.
REASONING: We pollute less than we used to, and there are no methods we could use that produce zero pollution. Environmentally responsible organizations pollute the least they can.
ANALYSIS: I’ll illustrate this with numbers. Suppose 100 is the most pollution you can produce, and 0 is the least. I’ll make an example that fits the CEO’s facts, yet shows that his company is a horrible polluter.
The CEO says that he pollutes less than he used to, and there are no methods that let him pollute at zero. So maybe the CEO’s company used to pollute at 95, and now they pollute at 93. Whoop-de-do.
An environmentally responsible organization will pollute the least that it can. If there is a method that would let the CEO’s company pollute at 20, then they’re not being responsible, even though they’re better than they used to be.
- The CEO didn’t say this. He said that currently there are no zero pollution methods. So maybe the company is doing all that it can at present, even if better methods will be available later.
- Huh? This is a completely different error. It’s like saying “ice cream makes you fat, so donuts don’t”. The CEO didn’t make this error.
- This is a different error. It’s like saying “No, I wasn’t rude in the restaurant. Therefore, I am never rude”. The CEO is only talking about a specific criticism: whether or not the company is environmentally responsible.
- The final sentence didn’t say that the company attempted to reduce pollution. The CEO says that the company did reduce pollution.
- CORRECT. See my analysis above. It’s true that the company can’t produce zero pollution, but maybe they can still try harder to produce less pollution than they currently do. If so, they’re not being responsible.
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