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The following appeared in a memorandum from the vice-president of the
Dolci Candy Company.
“Given the success of our premium and most expensive line of chocolate candies in
a recent taste test and the subsequent increase in sales, we should shift our business
focus to producing additional lines of premium candy rather than our lesser-priced,
ordinary candies. When the current economic boom ends and consumers can no
longer buy major luxury items, such as cars, they will still want to indulge in small
luxuries, such as expensive candies.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
In this memorandum the vice president of Dolci recommends changing the company’s focus to the production of premium high-priced
candy products. In support of this proposal the vice president points to the success of Dolci’s expensive line of chocolate candies in
recent taste test and the increase in sales following the test. An additional rationale for the change in focus stems from the speculation
that consumers will continue to purchase expensive candies when they can no longer afford major luxury items. The vice president’s
proposal lacks cogency for three reasons.
First, the fact that the premium line of chocolates met with success in a recent taste test is scant evidence of the claim that this line of
candies will continue to be successful in the future. To warrant this inference the vice president must assume that the taste test was
representative of consumers’ candy preferences in general. Unfortunately, the vice president has failed to provide evidence for this
Second, the vice president assumes that the increase in sales experienced after the taste test was brought about by sales of the
premium candies. However, the only indication that this was the case is the fact that the increase in sales followed the taste test.
Unfortunately, this evidence is insufficient to establish the causal claim in question. While temporal precedence is one of the conditions
required to establish a causal relationship between two events, by itself it is not a sufficient condition.
Finally, while the vice president’s speculation about future sales of premium candies may turn out to be correct, no evidence has been
provided to support this prediction.
In conclusion, the vice president has not made a convincing case for the recommendation to shift to Dolci’s business focus. To further
support this proposal the vice president would have to provide evidence that the taste test was a reliable indicator of consumer’s candy
preferences. Moreover, supporting evidence would be required for the prediction that consumers will continue to buy premium candies in
the event of an economic downturn.
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