25. The following appeared as part of an article in a magazine on lifestyles.
“Two years ago, City L was listed 14th in an annual survey that ranks cities according to the quality of life that can be enjoyed by those living in them. This information will enable people who are moving to the state in which City L is located to confidently identify one place, at least, where schools are good, housing is affordable, people are friendly, the environment is safe, and the arts flourish.”
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.
The argument stated above is seriously flawed. The journalist is assuming a lot of things that are not obvious for the reader and subject to discussion.
First of all, the argument doesn't say anything about the total number of cities that were surveyed. For example, if the number of cities surveyed were 15, the quality of life in City L would be very near the worst place. On the other hand, if the number of cities surveyed were 200, City L would be among the cities with better quality of life.
Another important evidence that would strengthen the argument is to provide information about the kind of cities involved in the survey. For instance, the conclusion would be very different if all the cities surveyed were cities of developing countries. On the contrary, the conclusion would sound more adequate if the cities surveyed belonged only to developed countries.
Also, the argument would be more logically sound if the journalist gives information about how the ranking was constructed. For example, which types of measures were used (quality of schools, industry development, etc.). This is because we don't know if a good ranking imply that the city has good schools, affordable housing, friendly people, safe environment, and flourish arts.
Finally, it would be very useful to give, in addition to the ranking, a score based on points. This would allow the readers to have an idea of the absolute (rather than relative) quality of life in City L. For instance, if the maximum score possible were 100 points, and City L got 40, we would think that the quality of life is not so good as the conclusion imply (even if the total number of cities involved in the surveyed was large).
In conclusion, a lot of additional information is needed to strengthen the argument. As I have stated above, it is essential to give more information about the methodology used to build the ranking, the characteristics of the sample used, the year of the survey (it could be outdated), etc.
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