ARG-068

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 difficulty obtaining reliable supplies of high-quality wool fabric, we discontinued production of our popular alpaca overcoat. Now that we have a new fabric supplier, we should resume production. Given the outcry from our customers when we discontinued this product and the fact that none of our competitors offers a comparable product, we can expect pent-up consumer demand for our alpaca coats. This demand and the overall increase in clothing prices will make Sartorian's alpaca overcoats more profitable than ever before."


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.


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 the conclusion is valid to some extent, the reasoning of this argument is unconvincing due to several unsubstantiated assumptions which, if proven wrong, will seriously challenge the author’s conclusion.


First of all, the author's reasoning is presented on the foundation of the assumption that, in myriad respects, the new supplier is the same as the original supplier. However, this assumption does not necessarily hold true. It is likely that 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 hypothesis will be overturned, and the author's conclusion will begin to wane.


At the same time, the author should not assume, without sufficient evidence, that customer protestation against product suspension is representative of customer demand for said coat. 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, there is still one other assumption: 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. If any of the above statements is true, the author's hypothesis will be overturned and the author's conclusion will begin to wane as well.


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, one of the author’s assumptions would still remain questionable: five years ago, there was demand for wool coats, this demand 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 assumptions about current needs will be abated, and the author's views will lack support.


Even if the aforementioned assumptions 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.


Consequently, while the author’s conclusion appears appealing, the questionable assumptions discussed above may deprive it of its feasibility.




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