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Analysis of an Argument # 2


ESSAY QUESTION: The following appeared in a proposal for a high school’s annual fundraising event: “In order to earn the most money for supplemental school programs, we will have larger and more thrilling rides at this year’s School Fair, including a ferris wheel that is twice as tall as last year’s ferris wheel.  In addition, the game vendors will award more expensive prizes and the food stalls will showcase a variety of upscale international dishes.  As a result, we will be able to charge a higher entrance fee and the dollar amount we earn via our commission on the vendors’ revenues will be higher than it was last year.”

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.  Point out flaws in the argument’s logic and analyze the argument’s underlying assumptions. In addition, evaluate how supporting evidence is used and what evidence might counter the argument’s conclusion.  You may also discuss what additional evidence could be used to strengthen the argument or what changes would make the argument more logically sound.

YOUR RESPONSE:

The argument states that in order to raise more money at the annual school fund-raising event the school would have larger and more thrilling rides at this year’s school fair. In addition the game vendors will award more expensive prizes and the food stalls will showcase a variety of upscale international dishes. Hence, the school would be able to charge a higher entrance fee and it would also earn more money via its commission on the vendor’s revenues. Stated in this way the argument manipulates facts and conveys a distorted view of the situation. The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there is no clear evidence. Hence the argument is weak and has several flaws.

First, the argument readily assumes that the number of people attending the fair would remain the same or become higher even after a hike in the entrance fees. This statement is a stretch. The fair is normally attended by the family of the children studying at the school. If these families consider the high entrance prices as a deterrent to attending the fair, the number of people attending the fair would actually come down, which may not result in increased earnings from entrance fees. The argument could have been much clearer if there was a study of the disposable income of the families of students attending the school and considering what amount of increase in entrance fee would be acceptable to these families.

Second, the argument claims that more people would be lured to the fair by larger and more thrilling rides, including a much larger ferris wheel. This is again a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any correlation between the people attending the fair and the kinds of rides that they like. For example there would be a substantial percentage of students who would be scared off by the larger rides. If the argument had provided a survey of number of students who were actually in favor of larger and more thrilling rides then the argument would have been a lot more convincing.

Finally does giving away more expensive prizes and showcasing upscale dishes increase the revenues of the vendors ? More often a more expensive prize or an upscale dish would be accompanied by the vendor increasing the cost of playing the game or cost of the dish, respectively. This may deter people from spending money and cause a loss in revenue. Without convincing answer to this question, one is left with an impression that the argument is more of a wishful thinking rather than a substantive evidence.

In conclusion the argument is flawed for the above-mentioned reasons and it is therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened if the school undertook a survey of the income level of attending families and the preference in rides of the children of the school. Without this information, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open to debate.

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