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#9 - CEO: We have been falsely criticized for not being an

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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (E)

As with several other questions in this section, the difficulty in this question results from a comparison relied on by the speaker, here the CEO.

The CEO defines “environmentally responsible corporations” as those corporations that do all they can to pollute less. Some have criticized the CEO’s corporation for not being environmentally responsible. The CEO concludes this criticism is false, based on two pieces of evidence.

First, the corporation’s current production methods pollute significantly less than did their old methods. Next, there currently are no production methods that do not produce any pollution. While this second bit of evidence is worded strangely, the CEO is saying it currently is impossible for his corporation to produce zero pollution.

The corporation’s current level of pollution is at some unknown point between producing no pollution and the corporation’s prior level of pollution. The stimulus does not make clear where on this scale of pollution the corporation’s current level of pollution is. But, the trick of this CEO’s argument is to get you focused on the fact that it is less than the prior level.

However, the standard given for determining whether a corporation is environmentally responsible is not that the corporation produces less than it did previously. Instead, the standard is that the corporation does all it can to pollute less. Having the word “less” in both of these standards is confusing, and adds to the difficulty in the question.

In this Method of Reasoning, Flaw in the Reasoning question, your prephrase is that the CEO’s conclusion is flawed because the evidence does not establish the corporation does all it can to pollute less. While it may be the case that the corporation’s production methods pollute significantly less than its old methods did, this does not preclude the possibility that there may be more the company could do to further reduce the pollution it creates.

Answer choice (A): This is an attractive, though incorrect answer choice. It is attractive, because the evidence is that there are currently no production methods that produce zero pollution. The CEO’s use of the word “currently” implies that the CEO has considered the possibility that production methods that do not produce pollution could be developed, and so it is incorrect to say that the CEO makes this assumption.

Answer choice (B): Understood within the context of this stimulus, the answer choice says that the CEO has failed to take into account the possibility that different methods of production can produce similar pollution. However, such a comparison is not required, because the CEO’s conclusion did not compare the polluting effects of different methods of production.

Answer choice (C): The CEO does not generalize from the inapplicability of a specific criticism, in this case regarding the pollution produced by the company, to a class of criticisms.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice is incorrect because the evidence established that the company has reduced the amount it pollutes. Instead, the position taken by the CEO was that if the company pollutes less than it did in the past, then it has done all it can to pollute less.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. As has been described above, the CEO concludes that since the company pollutes less now than it did in the past, then it has done all it can to pollute less. This answer choice states that the CEO ignores the possible existence of production methods that would permit the company to pollute even less. If these methods exist, then the company could pollute less by implementing them, and thus has not done all it can to pollute less.
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I chose D as the correct answer while the correct answer was E.

I reasoned that E is bringing in out of scope information and D correctly states that they assume that their efforts succeeded in reducing pollution.

Why is D wrong?

Thank you, Maxim.
Robert Carroll
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Answer choice (D) is incorrect because the CEO has not assumed that the attempts to reduce pollution have been successful - it states it plainly. There is no assumption made there. For the CEO to have made this mistake, he/she would have had to have said something like, "We carefully studied our pollution and implemented a plan to reduce it. Thus, we now pollute less." No such flaw occurs.

Answer choice (E) does not contain out of scope information because it identifies what the CEO ignores in the argument. Even if the corporation's new methods pollute less than its old method's, and there is no method that does not pollute at all, there is potentially some method that pollutes less (although we know it won't be as little as 0, given the CEO's claim). The CEO failed to consider that, so that was his/her flaw.

Robert Carroll