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The following appeared as part of an article in the
travel section of a newspaper.
“Over the past decade, the restaurant
industry in the country of Spiessa has experienced
unprecedented growth. This surge can be expected to continue in the coming
years, fueled by recent social changes: personal incomes are rising, more
leisure time is available,
single-person households are more common, and people have
a greater interest in gourmet food, as evidenced by a proliferation of publications
on the subject.”
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
Recent social changes in the country of
Spiessa lead the author to predict a continued surge in growth of that country’s
restaurant industry. Rising personal
incomes, additional leisure time, an increase in single-person households, and
greater interest in gourmet food are cited
as the main reasons for this optimistic outlook. All of these factors are indeed
relevant to growth in the restaurant industry; so
the prediction appears reasonable on
its face. However, three questionable
assumptions operative in this argument bear close examination.
The first dubious assumption is that the
supply of restaurants in Spiessa will continue to grow at the same rate as in
the recent past. However, even in the most
favorable conditions and the best of economic times there are just so many
restaurants that a given population can
accommodate and sustain. It is possible that the demand for restaurants has
already been met by the unprecedented growth
of the past decade, in
which case the recent social changes will
have little impact on the growth of the restaurant industry.
A second assumption is that the economic and
social circumstances cited by the author will actually result in more people eating
out at restaurants.
This assumption is unwarranted, however. For example, increased leisure time may
just as likely result in more people spending
more time cooking gourmet meals in their own homes. Also, single people may
actually be more likely than married people to eat
at home than to go out for meals. Finally, people may choose to spend their
additional income in other ways—on expensive cars, travel,
or larger homes.
A third poor assumption is that, even
assuming people in Spiessa will choose to spend more time and money eating out,
no extrinsic factors
this demand. This assumption is
unwarranted. Any number of extrinsic factors—such as a downturn in the general
economy or significant layoffs
at Spiessa’s largest businesses—may stall
the current restaurant
surge. Moreover, the argument fails to
specify the “social changes” that have led to
the current economic boom. If it turns out these changes are politically driven,
then the surge may very well reverse if
political power changes hands.
this argument unfairly assumes a predictable future course for both supply and
demand. To strengthen the argument, the author
must at the very least show
that demand for new restaurants has not yet been exhausted, that Spiessa can
accommodate new restaurants well into the
future, and that the people of Spiessa actually want to eat out more.