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PHIL1037 Critical Thinking

Question

Answered

Question:

Context Statement

In the remote and rural NSW communities of the Gulp River basin, there are growing tensions around the possibility of a new coal mining licence being granted to the Prospectus Group – a large international minerals and mining company. The plan is commonly referred to as the Prospectus Mining Project, or (PMP). The expansion of coal mining is divisive and controversial, and so the NSW Government are very aware of how carefully such a situation needs to be managed, especially in light of the controversies surrounding the Queensland Adani mine licences from 2015-2018.

The NSW Government are keen to handle the PMP decision with a full sense of the issues involved, and a complete picture of the interests and arguments of affected parties. To achieve this, they have set up the PMP Inquiry Board to assess the science, the economics, and needs and interests of the Gulp River communities. The board is headed by Professor Pooky Hook – a public policy and communications expert. The PMP Inquiry Board have created various sub-committees and tasked them with handling each of the issues separately: the science, the economics, and public opinion and local interest.

The science and economic sub-committees will look at arguments and submissions from the Mineral Council of Australia, Prospectus, CSIRO, and leading climate scientists amongst others. The public opinion and local interest sub-committee will look at arguments and submissions from local interest groups. With an informed account of these submissions in hand, the Inquiry Board will make a decision on the PMP, and whether to allow massive mining in the Gulp River Basin.

Task

We have been assigned to assist the Public Opinion and Local Interest Sub-Committee, and you have been given the task of analysing two submissions – one from the Gulp River Chamber of Commerce, and another from the influential local campaign group, the #No-To- PMP Action Group.

These two groups have very different perspectives on the PMP decision, and were invited to submit a one-page summary of their views to our sub-committee. We want you to take on the analysis and reporting for these two submissions.

Instruction:

An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Gulp River Chamber of Commerce and the #No-To-PMP Action Group Submission arguments.

You should include:

a. Comment on the types of argument used (e.g. inductive, deductive, analogy, causal claims), and their relative strengths.

b. Any problems in the arguments used (e.g. notable fallacies, unsupported or poorly supported claims, judgements on whether any research they’ve referred to is handled correctly and honestly etc.)

3. An analysis of the language, rhetoric, and possible biases used in the the Gulp River Chamber of Commerce submission, and the #No-To-PMP Action Group submission. This should reference the actual language of the submissions.

You should include:

a. Comment on the tone and language (e.g. word choice, ambiguity, spin, jargon, certainty and doubt, etc.)

b. Comment on possible biases in the arguments used (e.g. confirmation biases, agreement biases etc.)

A “recommendation briefing” for the Head of Inquiry Board. How should Professor Hook judge the two submissions? Which is the stronger case and why? She will also need some suggestions for how to respond to the two groups in informing them of her decisions. What should she be telling the two groups about why the final decision agrees or disagrees with their preferred outcome?

PHIL1037 Critical Thinking

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