When Stanley Park first opened, it was the largest, most heavily used public park in town. It is still the largest park, but it is no longer heavily used. Video cameras mounted in the park's parking lots last month revealed the park's drop in popularity: the recordings showed an average of only 50 cars per day. In contrast, tiny Carlton Park in the heart of the business district is visited by more than 150 people on a typical weekday. An obvious difference is that Carlton Park, unlike Stanley Park, provides ample seating. Thus, if Stanley Park is ever to be as popular with our citizens as Carlton Park, the town will obviously need to provide more benches, thereby converting some of the unused open areas into spaces suitable for socializing.
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
According to the passage, the author argues that Stanley Park (SP) should provide more benches for visitors to socialize, thus making SP as popular as Carlton Park (CP). In support of this conclusion, the author uses parking lot monitoring data to show that SP’s popularity is declining, while CP has a high number of weekday visitors, and the apparent difference between the two parks is the number of benches. Although the author’s suggestion is valid to some extent, the author’s argument is based on a number of assumptions that, if proven wrong, would severely undermine the author’s conclusion.
First, the author assumes that SP has fallen out of favor through SP parking camera data. Here, the author assumes that the monitoring data is accurate and reliable. But this assumption is potentially flawed. For example, the camera coverage is not comprehensive, and it is possible that the camera coverage is not at the locations where SP visitors often park. If this is the case, then it is possible that SP’s popularity is underestimated, and therefore the author’s conclusion is weakened.
Second, the author also assumes that the data he provides is informative. Specifically, the author assumes that 50 cars indicate a low number of visitors, and that 150 visitors on a weekday is correspondent to CP’s popularity. However, these assumptions are problematic. First, the author only provides the number of visitors to CP on weekdays, so it is very likely that CP is largely unvisited on weekends. Second, the author infers the actual number of visitors only from the number of vehicles, but it is possible that the people who go to SP all take one car as a family, or that most of the SP visitors have to take public transportation for several reasons, such as traffic control. If either of these scenarios is correct, then the author’s assumptions are weakened, and the conclusion will be challenged.
Third, even if the aforementioned assumptions are correct, the credibility of the author’s conclusion depends on the reliability of another assumption, namely that the only difference between the two parks is the number of seats. However, this assumption is not necessarily correct. CP may be more popular than SP simply due to free entrance, a better environment, or a larger population. If this is the case, the author’s conclusion does not hold.
Finally, even if CP is more popular because there is more seating, the author’s conclusion will be undermined by the dubious assumption that the option of converting SP’s open space into more benches is necessary and feasible. The author’s view that this option is effective may be overly optimistic. First, the author assumes that placing more benches in SP is the only way to increase its popularity. However, SP can also improve the number of visitors by other means, such as lowering the price of admission, enhancing the park environment, doing more publicity, etc. If that were the case, then the author’s proposal would not be necessary. Even if SP can only improve the number of visitors by placing benches, we still need to evaluate the feasibility of this proposal. Here, the author assumes that his proposal does not undermine the other functions of the SP. However, it is very likely that the converted open spaces are themselves very important sports or playgrounds, and converting them to benches, which add social features but sacrifice sports and play values, may instead lead to a more severe loss of visitors. If this were the case, the author’s conclusion would be challenged.
In conclusion, the author’s conclusion relies on the assumptions discussed above, which, if proven wrong, would challenge the credibility of the author’s conclusion.