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June 2007, Logical Reasoning 2, Question 21


Question 21 is a weakened question because of course it is. It says weakened in the question stem. Although we can question our job is to attack the argument's assumptions, which we can't do until we understand the argument. We have to find its conclusion, its evidence and then think about its gaps. The unstated things that need to be true in order for the argument to work.

This argument's conclusion is found at the end. We must accept the fact that consumption of meat will soon be morally unacceptable. To support this conclusion we're given three pieces of information. First, on average, raising animals be used as meat requires a lot of grain. That same amount of grain could be used to feed a lot more humans. And grain yields are leveling off, farmland is going out of production, and the population is rapidly expanding.

So this argument has two major assumptions. First, it's a cost benefit analysis. It's saying that the cost of meat is too great for the benefit. So all cost benefit analysis arguments share a similar assumption that there's nothing else that would change the way that we view the cost benefit balance. No other factor that might shift it back over towards benefit.

This argument is also a prediction, a prediction about the future. Anytime you make a prediction, you also must include the assumption that things in the future that are important for this argument to work are gonna change. So the correct answer could attack either of those assumptions, let's see what we've got to work with. So answer choice A, now this answer choice is about what people might be willing to pay for.

And since this argument is a moral argument, what people are willing to pay for isn't relevant. People might be willing to pay for a lot of things that are immoral. Answer choice B, answer choice B is going to be a problem for the argument. The argument says that animals raised for meat on grain have to eat a lot of grain, but this answer choice gives us a way out.

The animals can be fed on grass grown in pastures that's unsuitable for any other kind of farming. So it's not a trade off between meat and grain because they're not being fed on grain. And because the land couldn't grow grain anyway. So since this is our answer, we can just glance at the others as a courtesy.

Answer choice C is wrong because it is entirely about nutritional value. This argument is about the ethics of eating meat, not the nutritional value of grain or meat. Additionally, if this answer were true, it would actually support the idea that a grain free diet can be moral. Because it's hard for things to be moral if you can't do them.

Answer choice D is wrong, although it's close to right. Because it does speak about one part of the argument that's important, the farmland. But the farmland we're worried about is farmland that's going out of production. Farmland here is prime farmland, which I don't know if it's in production or not. And also this answer choice only says that we could reverse just this one specific trend.

Not that anybody's going to reverse it. And also, what about all those other trends? So answer choice D isn't the answer. And neither is answer choice E, because this argument doesn't concern a choice between eating exclusively grain or exclusively meat. Presumably there are other types of food in the world other than grain.

So a grain only diet is not up for consideration here, just one that doesn't have meat. So answer choice B was our answer.

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