Essay topics: The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of a food distribution company with food storage warehouses in several cities.
"Recently, we signed a contract with the Fly-Away Pest Control Company to provide pest control services at our fast-food warehouse in Palm City, but last month we discovered that over $20,000 worth of food there had been destroyed by pest damage. Meanwhile, the Buzzoff Pest Control Company, which we have used for many years, continued to service our warehouse in Wintervale, and last month only $10,000 worth of the food stored there had been destroyed by pest damage. Even though the price charged by Fly-Away is considerably lower, our best means of saving money is to return to Buzzoff for all our pest control services."
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.
While it might be true that returning to Buzzoff for all pest control services will allow the food distribution company save money, this author's argument does not make a cogent case for such a decision. The argument rests on questionable analogy, suffers from a lack of quantification, and makes unwarranted claims of causality.
Primarily, the argument makes an assumption that the warehouses in question are identical in everything but the pest control companies servicing them. However, the argument provides no information regarding the comparative size of these two warehouses and the food type stored in the second storehouse. It could be the case that the first warehouse is twice as big as the second one. Then the actual level of pest contamination is the same but, due to the larger capacity of the Palm City warehouse, more goods are stored there and more of them had been destroyed by the pest damage. If the percentage of damage is lower at Palm City, then we should conclude that Fly-Away provides the better pest-control service. Moreover, the Wintervale warehouse could be used for another type of food which is less vulnerable to the pest damage. The argument could have been stronger, had it provided information regarding the size of both storages, percentage of damage, and the type of food in the Wintervale warehouse. Even then, the author would have to further prove that weather conditions in these two cities are the same. As the names of the cities suggest, the first one could be situated in the tropical part of the country, and the second one could be in the region with cold climate and low temperatures prevailing throughout the year. In this case the Palm City warehouse is more exposed to the pest damage because different insects and rodents are abundant there; and the warehouse in Wintervale is less vulnerable due to the lower number of pests. To strengthen the argument the author should provide comparative information about these two cities, notably the weather conditions, the average humidity and the average temperature during the described period of time.
In addition to making questionable analogies, the author of the argument provides no retrospective information concerning the money means of the pest damage in the past. The speaker makes an assumption that the value of the damage in the Palm City warehouse has increased after the replacement of pest control services provider. However, it could be the case that the overall damage value didn’t change at all. The argument states that over $20,000 worth of food were destroyed by pest damage in the Palm City storage, but it doesn’t provide the average value of damage in the previous months. The argument could have been stronger had it provided information on the value of pest damage the company had earlier, namely when this warehouse had been serviced by the Buzzoff Company. If the value of damage is lower now, then we should conclude that the Fly-Away Company provides better pest-control service. Therefore, the food distribution company should not return to the Buzzoff company for all its pest control services, as stated in the original argument.
Finally, the author fails to prove that the replacement of the pest control service provider is the only reason of the increased damage. There might have been some other reasons that led to the company’s losses. For instance, some force majeure circumstances, such as the locust invasion, or rodent outbreak could have taken place in Palm City. Similarly, the food distribution company could have shipped contaminated food to this warehouse which resulted in the increased damage. Unless the author provides reliable evidence for the assumed causality, one can not deny other factors’ contribution to the damage.
The speaker’s claim that the food distribution company should return to the Buzzoff company for all its pest control services to save money is sadly misguided. The argument could be improved by providing comparative information about these two warehouses, as well as about weather conditions in these two cities. The argument would also benefit from including some statistical information on the value of pest damage the company had before the replacement of pest control service provider. Finally, the author should support the assumed causality with some reliable evidence.