ARG-016

The following appeared in a memo from the new vice president of Sartorian, a company that manufactures men's clothing.

"Five years ago, at a time when we had difficulties in obtaining reliable supplies of high quality wool fabric, we discontinued production of our alpaca overcoat. Now that we have a new fabric supplier, we should resume production. This coat should sell very well: since we have not offered an alpaca overcoat for five years and since our major competitor no longer makes an alpaca overcoat, there will be pent-up customer demand. Also, since the price of most types of clothing has increased in each of the past five years, customers should be willing to pay significantly higher prices for alpaca overcoats than they did five years ago, and our company profits will increase."


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.


In this memorandum, the vice president of Sartorian (S) believes that the resumption of wool coat production will bring in more profit to the enterprise based on the following reasons: a new fabric supplier, booming wool coat demand, and overall increase in prices in the garment industry. While this may be the case, close scrutiny reveals that the conclusion lacks critical support and therefore we need more evidence to help evaluate the argument.


First of all, we need to know whether the new supplier is the same as the original supplier. If the new suppliers will not be able to produce the same quality wool as the previous suppliers, and thus they will not be able to manufacture similar wool coats. Even if the new supplier can provide high quality wool, if the price exceeds S’s scope, S will not be able to accomplish continuous production. It is also possible that the new supplier’s capacity of production is so low that it isn’t able to meet S's requirements. If any of the three aforementioned possibilities exist, the author's conclusion will be overturned. Otherwise, the conclusion will be supported.


At the same time, whether customer protestation against product suspension is representative of customer demand for said coat is another piece of evidence in need. First, we are uninformed as to how many people are complaining about the suspension of wool coats; perhaps only 2 in 1000 people are complaining and are complaining repeatedly; second, is this protest really due to product suspension? Could it be a protest against some of S's other actions, coincidentally occurring at the same time as product suspension, which would lead to an erroneous belief that an association linking the two together existed? Additionally, even if customer protestation is representative of demand, we still need to be certain of whether the competitors not manufacturing the same product is equivalent to a S monopoly. Instead of manufacturing wool coats due to time-consumption and lack of profit, competitors may choose to sell different products and manufacture coats made from materials that are more time-efficient and have higher profit margins. Any evidence confirming the aforementioned statement will seriously undermine the author’s conclusion. Otherwise, the author’s conclusion will be bolstered.


Even if the protest is really due to product suspension, and competitive companies do not possess the capacity to manufacture the same style of clothing, we still need to know whether the demand five years ago has continued and will proceed to continue in the future. Despite the fact that there was demand for the wool coat five years ago, it is likely that there are numerous inexpensive alternatives. Additionally, clothing trends are generally short lived—it’s likely that a fashion trend will be out of vogue after a single season. If the current demand is different from that of 5 years ago, the author's views will lack support.


Even if the aforementioned statement all held true, it would still be impossible to ensure that S’s wool coats would bring in more profit than before, as increase or decrease in profit is dependent on product income and cost. Sales in re-manufactured wool coats may be lower and the cost could be higher than before. If the above possibilities exist, the author's conclusion will wane. Even if profit margins are high, it is impossible to ensure that other manufactures will not participate in the production of this garment. If there is competition, S's profits will also decrease in the future.


To draw a conclusion, we need further proof to form a better evaluation of the argument. Only after weighing all of the evidence which serves to weaken the argument as well as those supporting the argument, can we come to a decision about the soundness of this argument.


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