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Complete Question Explanation

Evaluate the Argument. The correct answer choice is (D)

In this dialogue Tina and Mark argue over whether Styrofoam or paper is more harmful to the environment. Mark points to one carcinogenic by-product to argue for the use of paper products instead. Tina disagrees, asserting that the use of paper is more harmful, based on the energy and pollution used all the way down the line in the process of paper production. Since this is an Evaluate question, we should seek the answer choice which provides the information that allows us to assess the relative merits of the two arguments.

Correct answer choice (D) accurately states that it would be valuable to know how far down the chain of causation should be considered.

The Variance Test: The further down the chain of causation one considers in the analysis, the stronger Tina’s argument becomes.
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Why is E) incorrect? I have to admit that after reading the question, I was looking for D). My eyes locked in after looking at D). But E) misguided me, and I ended up choosing it.

Here's my reasoning: Mark - says use Paper cups because Foam cups are bad environmentally.

Tina - Doesn't disagree with Mark's evidences but says that Paper cups are even worse because of the impact during the production lifecycles. She mentions that "paper cups weigh more" -- this really killed me.

I thought - what if less paper cups are used OR more foam cups are used to compensate for the same amount of liquid they hold? For instance, what if greater quantity of paper is required to manufacture a paper cup that would hold the same quantity of liquid as a foam cup would? More paper => production costs (in terms of environmental impact) are even higher. (tina's arg is strengthened). On the other hand, if less paper is used compared with foam cup, Tina's argument is weakened.

Please help. :(

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 Dave Killoran
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Hi Voodoo,

In part, what happened here was that you allowed one small part of Tina's argument to to an oversized position in your mind. She mentioned the weight issue as part of a larger schematic about production lifecycle, and I think internally you knew that, but then got swayed by (E) at the last minute.

I'll note that in your "thoughts" section, you argue about specifics of individual cup production. But, look at Tina's comments--they are more about aggregate arguments. In (E), even with that information, we wouldn't be in a position to address the issue between Mark and Tina. We'd need a lot more information than just that to start making an attempt to decide this argument. However, in (D), we can immediately start to decide if one person or the other has the edge. I think that you had (D) locked down, but then fell into the trap of talking yourself into (E). Never talk yourself into an answer! Always make the answer justify itself to you.

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Q: I could not tell what kind of question type this was.

Without any confidence whether the answer choices are confined within the stimuli or not, I just ended up choosing answer C.

Considering the issue whether paper cup is more harmful than plastic cup on environment, answer D would determine whose idea is more appealing.
 Robert Carroll
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This question was an Evaluate the Argument question. New information is OK in Evaluate the Argument questions, because they can be viewed as combination Strengthen/Weaken questions. Because there are two opposing points of view here, represented by the two speakers, Strengthening Mark means Weakening Tina, and Strengthening Tina means Weakening Mark.

To evaluate answer choices in such a question, employ the Variance Test. Because of the way the answer choices are phrased, as questions, you can experiment to see which one answers the question by giving polar opposite answers, then checking to make sure that one polar opposite answer helps Mark and hurts Tina, while the other polar opposite answer hurts Mark and helps Tina.

Employ this strategy on answer choice D, which says "how much of the chains of causation involved in the production, marketing, and disposal of the products should be considered in analyzing their environmental impact." This can easily be converted into a question, "How much?" and the polar opposite answers are "None" and "All". If "None", then the chains of causation involved in the production, marketing, and disposal of the products should not be considered in analyzing their environmental impact; then Mark is right and Tina is wrong. If "All", then Tina is right and Mark is wrong. Because the Variance Test demonstrates that widely varying responses to the question inherent in answer choice D will produce widely varying evaluations of the arguments presented by each person, D contains the question you want to ask to know who is right and who is wrong here.

Employ the Variance Test on choice C now. To "whether it is necessary to seek a third alternative that has none of the negative consequences cited with respect to the two products", answer "Yes" and "No". If it IS necessary to seek a third alternative, does Mark or Tina have the better argument? If we need a third alternative, then Mark's suggestion of paper cups and Tina's suggestion of foam cups are both wrong, so I can't decide between their two views. If is it NOT necessary, then I can choose either paper of foam, but I'm not sure which - the answer has not allowed me to decide between Mark and Tina, like the question stem tells me I have to. So C is not relevant to helping me decide between them.

I hope this helped.

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I read the evaluation part in bible again, and my memory is back!

Thank you for the explanation!

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