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The following appeared in a memorandum from the directors of a security and
safety consulting service.
“Our research indicates that over the past six years no incidents of employee theft
have been reported within ten of the companies that have been our clients. In
analyzing the security practices of these ten companies, we have further learned
that each of them requires its employees to wear photo identification badges while
at work. In the future, therefore, we should recommend the use of such
identification badges to all of our clients.”
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
In this argument the directors of a security-and safety-consulting service conclude that the use of photo identification badges should be
recommended to all of their clients as a means to prevent employee theft. Their conclusion is based on a study revealing that ten of
their previous clients who use photo identification badges have had no incidents of employee theft over the past six-year period. The
directors’ recommendation is problematic in several respects.
In the first place, the directors’ argument is based on the assumption that the reason for the lack of employee theft in the ten
companies was the fact that their employees wear photo identification badges. However, the evidence revealed in their research
establishes only a positive correlation between the lack of theft and the requirement to wear badges; it does not establish a causal
connection between them. Other factors, such as the use of surveillance cameras or spot checks of employees’ briefcases and purses
could be responsible for lack of employee theft within the ten companies analyzed.
In the second place, the directors assume that employee theft is a problem that is common among their clients and about which their
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clients are equally concerned. However, for some of their clients this might not be a problem at all. For example, companies that sell
services are much less likely to be concerned about employee theft than those who sell products. Moreover, those that sell small
products would be more concerned about theft than those that sell large products. Consequently, even if wearing badges reduces
employee theft, it might not be necessary for all of the firm’s clients to follow this practice.
In conclusion, the director’s recommendation is not well supported. To strengthen the conclusion they must establish a causal relation
between the wearing of identification badges and the absence of employee theft. They also must establish that the firm’s clients are
sufficiently similar to all profit from this practice.