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The following appeared in the editorial section of a local
"In the first four years that Montoya
has served as mayor of the city of San Perdito, the
population has decreased and the unemployment rate has increased. Two businesses
have closed for each new business that has opened. Under Varro, who served
as mayor for four years before Montoya, the unemployment rate decreased and
the population increased. Clearly, the residents of San Perdito would be best
served if they voted Montoya out
of office and reelected Varro."
how well reasoned... etc.
The recommendation endorsed in this argument
is that residents of San Perdito vote current mayor Montoya out of office, and
re-elect former mayor Varro. The reasons
cited are that during Montoya’s four years in office the population has
decreased while unemployment has
increased, whereas during Varro’s term unemployment declined while the
population grew. This argument involves the sort
of gross oversimplification and emotional appeal typical of political rhetoric;
for this reason it is unconvincing.
First of all, the author assumes that the
Montoya administration caused the unemployment in San Perdito as well as its
population loss. The line of reasoning is
that because Montoya was elected before the rise in unemployment and the decline
in population, the former event caused the
latter. But this is fallacious reasoning unless other possible causal
explanations have been considered and ruled out. For example,
perhaps a statewide or nationwide recession is the cause of these events. Or
perhaps the current economic downturn is part of
a larger picture of economic cycles and trends, and has nothing to do with who
happens to be mayor. Yet another possibility is that Varro
enjoyed a period of economic stability and Varro’s own administration set the
stage for the unemployment and the decline in population
the city is now experiencing under Montoya.
Secondly, job availability and the economic
health of one’s community are issues that affect people emotionally. The
argument at hand might have been
intentionally oversimplified for the specific purpose of angering citizens of
San Perdito, and thereby turning them against
the incumbent mayor. Arguments that bypass relevant, complex reasoning in favor
of stirring up emotions do nothing to establish
their conclusions; they are also unfair to the parties involved.
In conclusion, I would not cast my vote for
Varro on the basis of this weak argument. The author must provide support for
the assumption that Mayor Montoya has
caused San Perdito’s poor economy. Moreover, such support would have to
involve examining and eliminating other
possible causal factors. Only with more convincing evidence could this argument
become more than just an emotional appeal.