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The following appeared as part of an article in a
magazine on lifestyles.
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... etc.
The author concludes that City L has good
schools, affordable housing, friendly people, flourishing arts and a safe
environment. To support this claim the
author cites an annual survey that ranks cities according to quality of life.
Two years ago City L was listed 14th in this
survey. As it stands this
argument is unconvincing.
First, the author fails to indicate what
individual characteristics of cities were used as criteria for the ranking. To
the extent that the criteria
used in the survey were the same as the features listed by the author in the
conclusion, the conclusion would be warranted. On the
other hand, if the survey employed entirely different criteria—for example,
outdoor recreational opportunities or educational achievement
levels of adult residents—then the author’s conclusion would be wholly
Secondly, the author provides no indication
of how each characteristic was weighted in the ranking. For example, City L may
have far and
away the most flourishing arts scene among
the cities surveyed, but it may have poor schools, unfriendly people, and an
unsafe environment. The extent to which
the survey accurately reflects City L’s overall quality of life in this case
would depend largely on the relative
weight placed on the arts as a factor affecting quality of life.
Thirdly, the author fails to indicate how
many cities were included in the survey. Th more cities included in the survey,
the stronger the argument—and vice
versa. For example, if 2,000 cities were surveyed, then City L would rank in the
top one percent in terms of quality of
life. On the other hand, if only 14 cities were surveyed then City L would rank
Finally, the author’s conclusion depends on
the questionable assumption that the conditions listed by the author have
remained unchanged in City L since the
survey was conducted two years ago. Admittedly,
had ten years elapsed the argument would be even weaker.
Yet two years is sufficient time for a
significant change in the overall economy, the city’s fiscal policies, its
financial condition, or its political
climate. Any of these factors can affect the quality of schools, the extent to
which art is flourishing, or the cost of housing.
In conclusion, the author does not adequately
support the conclusion. To strengthen the argument, the author must show that
the criteria used in the survey were the
same as the features listed in the conclusion and were weighted in a way that
does not distort the picture in City L. To
better assess the argument, we would also need more information about the cities
included in the survey, as well as what
changes in City L have occurred during the past two years.