Chapter 5 Section 1 Analysis of Argument
These essays are not "perfect"
answers, but represent what could be done in a 30-minute
period to get a score of 5 or 6.
The author argues, using facts from the color-film processing industry's downward trend in cost over 24 years, that Olympic Foods will be able to cut costs and thus maximize profits in the future. The author bases his conclusion on the generalization that organizations learn to reduce costs over time and, since Olympic Foods has 25 years experience in the food processing industry, its costs should have declined considerably. There are two serious flaws in the argument.
First, the argument uses a faulty analogy between the color-film processing industry and the food processing industry. Analogies drawn between the two fields are highly suspect because there are many serious differences. While the film processing industry faces a relatively simple processing challenge, food producers must contend with contamination, transportation and farm production (much more serious challenges). Thus, it is likely much more difficult to wring efficiency improvements in the food industry.
Second, the author uses a sweeping
generalization. The author's prediction of margin improvements
relies on the optimistic assumption that Olympic Foods' 25 years
of experience will automatically result in operational efficiencies.
The problem with this is that improvements in processes do not
occur automatically over time, they require tremendous effort
at continuous improvement and they require potential room for
improvement. It is possible Olympic Food has limited room for
improvement or lacks the managerial will to improve its operations.
Thus, there is no guarantee of improved operational efficiency
The argument concludes that the Apogee Company should shut down its field offices and use a centralized location because the company was more profitable when it had a single central location. The argument has two serious flaws.
First, the author commits the "After This, Therefore, Because of This" fallacy where the author assumes that because a decline in profitability occurred after the field offices were created, the field offices were responsible for the decline. However, there may be other factors that could have caused the decline. Could an industry-wide decline, poor management, or poor marketing have caused the decline? Without ruling out other factors or presenting stronger evidence, the author cannot conclusively blame the field offices.
Second, the author assumes that eliminating the field offices would improve profitability by streamlining the management of employees and cutting costs. There is no evidence to support this assumption. Perhaps the field offices cut travel costs from the central office and allowed better management of sales to far-flung clients. The author could support his assumption with cost-cutting and or profit-enhancing strategies.
In summary, to strengthen the
conclusion that Apogee should close field offices and centralize,
this author must rule out factors other than decentralization
that might be affecting current profits negatively and demonstrate
how decentralization would cut costs.
The author concludes in this argument that the city should shift some of its arts funding to public television for two reasons. The author argues that public television is being threatened by severe cuts in corporate funding and attendance at the city's art museum has increased proportionately with increases in visual arts program viewing on public television. There are a few problems with this argument.
First, the argument assumes that a correlation proves causality. Simply because there was an increase in television exposure to the visual arts, mainly through public television, the author assumes that this exposure caused a similar increase in local art museum attendance. The author uses the statistical relationship between increased art museum attendance and similar increases in television viewing of visual arts programs to establish causality. However, a statistical correlation does not mean causality, there may be other factors driving the increased art museum attendance, such as new shows, a new wing added to the museum, or a possible rise in the interest in art in society.
On the other hand, the author makes a fair assumption that television programs have an impact on behavior. This is a common sense assumption. After all, advertisers spend billions of dollars on television ad time because they trust this assumption as well.
In conclusion, the author's reasoning is somewhat persuasive. The author could strengthen his or her argument by eliminating other potential causes that could increase visits to the local art museum.
The report recommends replacing the manager of the purchasing department in response to a relationship between falling revenues and delays in manufacturing. The grounds for this action are that the delays are traced to poor planning in purchasing metals. The cause of the poor planning might be the purchasing manager's lack of knowledge of the properties of metals. The author suggests that the position of purchasing manager should be filled by a scientist from the research division and that the current purchasing manager should be reassigned to the sales department. The report supports this latter recommendation, pointing out that the purchasing manager's background in general business, psychology, and sociology equip him for this new assignment. The report's recommendations have two serious questionable assumptions.
The first problem is that the report fails to establish a causal connection between the falling revenues of the company and the delays in manufacturing. The fact that falling revenues coincide with delays in manufacturing does not necessarily prove that the delays caused the decline in revenue. The report's recommendations are not worthy of consideration if there is no compelling evidence to support the causal connection between these two events.
Second, the report assumes that
knowledge of the properties of metals is necessary for planning
in purchasing metals. No evidence is stated in the report to
support this crucial assumption. Moreover, it is not obvious
that such knowledge would be required to perform this task because
planning is essentially a logistical function.
The publisher of the Mercury newspaper is suggesting that the newspaper's price be reduced below the price of The Bugle, a competing newspaper. The circulation of the Mercury has declined during the 5-year period following The Bugle's introduction. The publisher believes that lowering the price of The Mercury will increase its readership, thereby increasing profits because a wider readership attracts more advertisers. The publisher's reasoning has two serious problems.
First, although it is obvious that increased circulation would make the paper more attractive to potential advertisers, it is not clear that lowering the subscription price is the most effective way to gain new readers. The publisher assumes that price is the only factor that caused the decline in readership. There is no evidence given to support this claim. In addition, given that The Mercury was the established local paper, it is doubtful that the large-scale drop in circulation would be explained by subscription price alone.
It is possible that other reasons exist for The Mercury's decline in readership. The Bugle could have much better writing and layout than the Mercury. It is also possible that readers may not be satisfied with the news reporting's accuracy, or the balance of local to national/statewide news coverage. Either way, it is unclear that lowering prices will drive up readership.
In conclusion, this argument depends on a simplified assumption about the price of the paper and its popularity. The author could strengthen the argument by discussing other factors beyond cost before concluding that lowering subscription prices will increase circulation and, thereby, increase advertising revenues.
This advertisement for the city of Helios makes several arguments for locating companies in Helios. The advertisement states that Helios is an industrial center and enjoys a lower than average unemployment rate. In addition, the advertisement states that the city is "attempting" to expand its base by attracting companies that focus on technologies. This argument is problematic for three reasons. Moreover, it is argued that efforts are currently underway to expand the economic base of the city by attracting companies that focus on research and development of innovative technologies. This argument is problematic for several reasons.
First, the argument presents no reason
to believe that the city is equipped to handle non-manufacturing related
businesses. The status of the city as a manufacturing center will
likely mean that the city is equipped
to handle manufacturing businesses. Its labor supply, energy resources,
regulatory environment, support businesses, and infrastructure are
likely well suited to manufacturing companies. However, there is no
reason to believe, based on the argument,
that Helios offers any attractive benefits to technology companies.
Another ineffective argument made is
that of the city's low employment rate.
The low unemployment rate during a recession suggests that the city
has a labor shortage. This means that companies moving to the city
probably have to pay above average labor
rates to attract labor in a tight market.
The author in this argument is trying
to establish that people are better off trying to lose weight with
sugar rather than with the artificial
sweetener aspartame. This conclusion is based on the assertion that
aspartame can indirectly cause weight gain by triggering food cravings,
while sugar benefits weight loss by enhancing the body's ability to
burn fat. The details of the claim,
however, prevent making an effective generalization about aspartame's
In conclusion, each of the studies cited in the argument cannot be extended to make a generalization that aspartame is preferable to sugar. Instead, the exercise claim must be qualified by "after 45 minutes" and the dosage indicated by "high" must be defined.
This argument uses a survey of workers to show that workers are indeed interested in management issues. The argument is solely based on a survey of 1200 workers that showed that 79% of the workers surveyed expressed interest in the topics of corporate restructuring and the redesign of worker benefits. This argument has several flaws.
The first objection to this argument
is the validity of the survey. The statement is incomplete because
it does not adequately describe the conditions of the survey.
One issue is the sample. Were the workers chosen for the survey
chosen randomly or did they volunteer for the survey? This question
is relevant here since apathetic workers would obviously not
respond to a survey of worker apathy!
Aside from any issues relating to the quality of the survey, the argument makes a false generalization about the results of the survey. The survey asks specifically about the worker's interest in corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs. These issues could be reasonably construed as worker's issues since they would directly impact worker benefits and job security (restructuring often implies layoffs). Thus, the survey cannot be extended to demonstrate an interest in management issues.
In sum, the conclusion about worker interest
in management issues cannot be reasonably drawn from the survey's
information. The survey's accuracy is not adequately explained and
the survey's results are illogically
extended to draw an unsupported generalization.
The author argues that department
store sales will increase significantly over the next few years
because their core market of middle-aged people will increase
in size over the next decade. The author uses the statistic that
39 percent of the retail expenditures of middle-aged people are
through department stores. The author additionally argues that
stores should take advantage of this trend by carrying more products
aimed at middle-aged customers. This argument has two serious
In sum, this argument is not strong as it currently stands. The argument needs more information about the growth rates of the younger market and their tastes.
The argument states that the state legislature
does not have to consider the views of protesting students. The author
supports this conclusion by pointing out that only 200 of the 12,000
students actually went to the state capitol to protest the cuts in
college programs. The author concludes
that since an overwhelming majority of the students did not take part
in the survey, they must not be interested in the issue. This argument
has two serious flaws.
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