QUESTION TEXT: Environmentalist: Efforts to attain an overall reduction…
QUESTION TYPE: Necessary Assumption
CONCLUSION: Nothing but government policies can produce change on the scale we need.
REASONING: Individual reductions can’t make an overall reduction in carbon. Not even if most people change their behaviour.
ANALYSIS: The author seems to be assuming that at least some people won’t change their behaviour. Clearly, if all people reduced their emissions, then overall emissions would drop.
This is what I prephrased before looking at the answers. It wasn’t what they went with, but I still think it was helpful to think of, as it got me thinking about “ways the author could be wrong”. The right answer did use the same general track of “convincing people can lead to the needed change in some other way”.
- CORRECT. This wasn’t my prephrase, but it is necessary. The argument said that even convincing most people to change their behaviour wouldn’t work. But if you negate this, that isn’t true.
Negation: If most people are convinced to change their behaviour, then that would make those people successfully persuade the government to make policies to cut carbon.
- This strengthens the argument, but that’s not enough to make it necessary. The fact that people can calculate something (if they have to) doesn’t mean they will.
Negation: Individuals are capable of calculating how to reduce their emissions.
- It doesn’t really matter who makes the efforts. The environmentalist’s argument was that such efforts are doomed to fail. The environmentalist was saying anyone’s efforts would fail.
The environmentalist was saying the government should take action, but they meant by regulating emissions directly, and not by merely trying to persuade people to reduce individually.
Negation: One person framing government policy made a single effort to persuade someone to reduce their personal emissions.
- This gets at the wrong issue. The environmentalist wasn’t comparing the ease of the two solutions. They were saying that one solution was doomed to fail (individual reductions), and that only direct government action had any chance of working.
- This is perhaps true, but you’re not supposed to be looking for an answer that is true in the world. You need something essential to the argument, which is about cutting carbon. That’s not necessarily the same thing as “supporting environmental issues”, which is a broad topic.
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