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GRE Argument Essay: The Crust Copper Company - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: 'The following appeared in a letter to the editor of a journal on environmental issues. "Over the past year, the Crust Copper Company (CCC) has purchased over 10,000 square miles of land in the tropical nation of West Fredonia. Mining copper on this land will inevitably result in pollution and, since West Fredonia is the home of several endangered animal species, in environmental disaster. But such disasters can be prevented if consumers simply refuse to purchase products that are made with CCC's copper unless the company abandons its mining plans." Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.'
The author of this letter says that CCC has bought a large area of land and since it is mining copper there, it would result in pollution and environmental disaster. First, the author has assumed that the CCC has not taken any measures to control the pollution caused by mining or considered that the nation homes several endangered species and the land bought may not be affecting any of those species in any way. The CCC might have taken some protective measures to not pollute the areas outside the land that they have bought. If that is true, then the claim that the mining copper in this land would cause pollution and environmental disaster would prove unwarranted as there would be no harm to environment when protective measures are taken.
The second assumption is that refusing to buy the CCC products would prevent environmental pollution. If the consumers refuse to purchase the products made with CCC's copper, even then there is no guarantee that the company would stop mining the land. This is because, when the customers don’t buy the product, it results in loss for them. But on the other hand, if they stop mining, even that would result in company's loss. Also, it is not possible to make the customers across the globe to refuse to buy CCC's products. Hence even if the local customers refuse to buy, the company might still be continuing to mine and export products.
Additionally, let us assume that the company has stopped mining as the consumers started refusing to buy their products. Still there is no guarantee that the land will not be purchased by other copper companies like CCC and the mining will not continue. In one way or the other, mining might keep happening in the land by some copper company. So unless we know for sure that the land is not going to be sold to any other copper company or any government rule is about to be passed to not use the land for mining, such assumptions cannot be used to conclude that refusing to buy would result in pollution free environment.
You adopt a fairly meandering path towards identifying the first assumption. The letter doesn't really assume that the CCC has "not taken any measures to control the pollution." You, however, do assume that protective measures would be enough to prevent harm to the environment. (BP take protective measures to prevent harm to the environment; one could still reasonably argue that further environmental harm from oil drilling and transportation is inevitable.) However, the letter does assume that any pollution caused by CCC mining activities will both reach and have a significant affect on the endangered animals.
Your last argument is pretty good and though you don't explicitly identify an assumption of the original argument, as I think you should, but the point in any case is pretty clear: the argument assumes that there is no other possible cause of the environmental disaster the author wants to avoid (actually you refer imprecisely to pollution as the outcome that the author wants to avoid). Here's one instruction you ignore: "Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions." They don't write these instructions for fun, so you may as well follow them. In this case, write something as simple as "The letter suggests that an environmental disaster can be prevented if consumers do not purchase products made with CCC's copper. That claim is only true if, and therefore assumes that, there are no other possible causes of environmental disaster."
Note, by the way, that the argument apparently also assumes that CCC are planning to mine West Fredonia. They could be planning instead to build a conservation park for endangered animals. Of course they could also be planning to open an exclusive restaurant that specializes in the meat of endangered animals. Yum.