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The following appeared in the opinion section of a national newsmagazine.
“To reverse the deterioration of the postal service, the government should raise the
price of postage stamps. This solution will no doubt prove effective, since the price
increase will generate larger revenues and will also reduce the volume of mail,
thereby eliminating the strain on the existing system and contributing to improved
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
In this argument the author concludes that university hospitals provide no better care than private or community hospitals. The author
bases this conclusion on the following claims about university hospitals: the ones in this region employ 15 percent fewer doctors; they
have a 20 percent lower success rate in treating patients; they pay their staffs less money; they make less profit than community
hospitals; and they utilize doctors who divide their time between teaching, research and treating patients. This argument is unconvincing
for several reasons.
The most egregious reasoning error in the argument is the author’s use of evidence pertaining to university hospitals in this region as
the basis for a generalization about all university hospitals. The underlying assumption operative in this inference is that university
hospitals in this region are representative of all university hospitals. No evidence is offered to support this gratuitous assumption.
Secondly, the only relevant reason offered in support of the claim that the quality of care is lower in university hospitals than it is at
other hospitals is the fact that university hospitals have a lower success rate in treating patients. But this reason is not sufficient to
reach the conclusion in question unless it can be shown that the patients treated in both types of hospitals suffered from similar types
of maladies. For example, if university hospitals routinely treat patients suffering from rare diseases whereas other hospitals treat only
those who suffer from known diseases and illnesses, the difference in success rates would not be indicative of the quality of care
Finally, the author assumes that the number of doctors a hospital employs, its success rate in treating patients, the amount it pays its
staff, and the profits it earns are all reliable indicators of the quality of care it delivers. No evidence is offered to support this
assumption nor is it obvious that any of these factors is linked to the quality of care delivered to patients. Moreover, the fact that
doctors in university hospitals divide their time among many tasks fails to demonstrate that they do a poorer job of treating patients
than doctors at other kinds of hospitals. In fact, it is highly likely that they do a better job because they are more knowledgeable than
other doctors due to their teaching and research.
In conclusion, the author’s argument is unconvincing. To strengthen the argument the author would have to demonstrate that university
hospitals in this region are representative of all university hospitals, as well as establishing a causal link between the various factors
cited and the quality of care delivered to patients.