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#22 - Oil company representative: We spent more money on

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Complete Question Explanation

Justify the Conclusion. The correct answer choice is (A)

The oil company representative argues that since his company is spending such a comparatively large sum of money on cleaning up the oil spill his company just caused, his company has demonstrated concern for the environment.

Of course, you should question whether a company might better have demonstrated concern by avoiding the oil-spill in the first place.

The environmentalist counters the company representative by claiming since negative media coverage would hurt sales, and since the company simply has to engage in cleaning up in order to avoid negative coverage, the company has no concern for the environment. Essentially the environmentalist argues that environmental concern was not a cause for the oil company's actions.

The problem with the environmentalist's conclusion is that there is often more than one explanation for or cause of a person's or company's actions. Just because the company might engage in its actions merely to save face does not prove that the company could not have other motivations as well.

Since the question asks us to justify the environmentalist's conclusion, we should attempt to prove that the company was not motivated by concern for the environment, by eliminating it as a potential cause.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. It very simply eliminates the possibility that the oil company could have more than one motive. Since the premises in the stimulus already establish that maintaining public appearances is a motive, it would now be impossible for environmental concerns to be a causal factor.

Answer choice (B): This choice makes it seem more likely that the media coverage would be negative without the cleanup efforts, because if oily otters are bad for business, certainly dead ones might be worse. However, that does not mean that the environment could not have been a motivating factor, and in some ways makes it even more likely that the company might also have cared about the environment, so answer choice (B) is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): Even if the company shows high regard for profits in its decision making, the company could still care about the environment, so this answer choice does not prove that the company had no concern for the environment, and is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): The government is irrelevant to the topic at hand. You should remember that even though the correct answers to strengthen, assumption, and justify conclusions often involve information the stimuli have not mentioned, the information should still be tangential to the stimulus. Furthermore, if one allows for the introduction of "government," answer choice (D) actually offers more support for the oil company representative than for the environmentalist, because it suggests that the company's expenditures were unnecessary, so this choice is wrong.

Answer choice (E): This choice is about the success, or effect of the efforts, but the real issue was about the motivation, or the cause of the efforts. The success of the efforts establishes nothing about the motivation for the efforts, and you should not assume that success indicated a greater commitment.
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I don't see how A is correct and why c is wrong. If the oil company can have only one motive I don't see how it proves that its motive wasn't concern for the environment, wouldn't this weaken the argument because if they can only have one motive couldn't that in turn prove that they were acting only in concern for the environment instead of disproving it? whereas C talks about the oil companies concern for profits in its decision making this seem to me to be much stronger than A that profits were the cause for the concern.
Adam Tyson
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Hey there egarcia193, let's see if we can clear this up. The stem asks us to justify (prove) the environmentalist's conclusion, so start by identifying what that conclusion is. He wants to prove that the oil company is not concerned about the environment. Now, what support does he have for that claim? His only premise is that the company representative admitted to the press that he had some concern about the impact of oil-covered otters on their public image and sales.

To justify the conclusion, consider this formula:

Premises + Answer = Conclusion

Your goal is to find the answer that, when added to the premises, adds up to the conclusion, leaving no doubt about its truth.

Here's how that looks in this case, first looking at answer A, the correct answer:

The company admitted that it cares about negative impact of pictures of oil-covered otters on public image and sales, and the company cannot have more than one motive for cleaning the otters, so therefore they cannot be motivated by concerns about the environment.

This works perfectly! They have admitted to one motive, they can have no other, so they do not have another. Boom! Lawyered!

What about your other contender, answer C? Take a look here:

The company admitted that it cares about negative impact of pictures of oil-covered otters on public image and sales, and the company has always cared a lot about their profits, therefore they do not care about the environment.

Has the conclusion been proven here? Not at all! I don't even think it's been strengthened by this answer. So the company cares, and has always cared, about profits. Can't they also care about the environment? What's the conflict here? I see none. They could care about profits, and about the environment, and about what their investors think, and about how well they sleep at night, and whether their kids will still love them, and about also about how they will be received at the pearly gates come judgment day. The only way this answer would work is if you also assumed that answer A was true - if you care about one thing, then it is the only thing you care about. Since answer C needs answer A to also be true in order to justify the conclusion, answer C cannot be the right answer to this Justify the Conclusion question.

Keep pounding!
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I had A and C as my contenders and my line of reasoning was similar to egarcia193's for picking A is my final answer. The explanation on this post makes perfect sense as to why C is incorrect, but my main reservation with A was that it could be used to conclusively prove the oil company representative's position as well (while understanding that it also conclusively proves the environmentalist's statement). So this answer choice would work for both positions depending on what the question is asking. For example, if the question asked to prove the oil company rep's statement as opposed to the environmentalist's, it would still work. However, does that not matter because the question is only concerned with proving the environmentalist's position and we don't have to worry about the fact that it can be later turned around to prove the other side as well? What is the best approach for questions where the right answer choice could prove both sides? Only consider what's being asked and disregard the rest?
Malila Robinson
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Hi Mahasan,
I'm not sure I would agree that Answer A conclusively proves the Oil Company Rep's position. For example the Rep could be lying, and the cleanup could be related to solely related to sales. In that case, if there could only be one motive, and the real motive was sales, then it would not have proven the lie the Oil Company Rep put forth to be true. (This is a Justify question so we do not have to assume that the statements in the argument are true. That is what leaves open the possibility that the Oil Company Rep is lying.)
Hope that helps!