The following appeared in a letter from a firm providing investment advice to a client.

"Homes in the northeastern United States, where winters are typically cold, have traditionally used oil as their major fuel for heating. Last year that region experienced twenty days with below-average temperatures, and local weather forecasters throughout the region predict that this weather pattern will continue for several more years. Furthermore, many new homes have been built in this region during the past year. Because of these developments, we predict an increased demand for heating oil and recommend investment in Consolidated Industries, one of whose major business operations is the retail sale of home heating oil."

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 letter, the writer states that in the northeastern regions of the United States, oil has been traditionally used for heating in winter months, and, due to decreasing temperatures and an increasing population rate, the writer forecasts an increased demand for heating oil and, therefore, recommends investment in Consolidating Industries, a major retailer of home heating oil. 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.

To begin with, before any money is allocated for investments, we must deliberate whether the tradition of using heating oil in homes to fend of the cold will continue in the future. It can be said that the tradition of using heating oil in homes is the fulcrum upon which the writer’s recommendation rests, for if the aforementioned tradition didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be any talk of investment in Consolidating Industries. If, in the future, the tradition of using home heating oil in the winter begins to peter out, the client would, undoubtedly, lose a portion of the money invested in the company. On a more serious note, if said tradition is abolished and ceases entirely, the client may lose a great sum of money and could potentially reprimand the investment firm for poor advice and judgement, thus marring the name of the firm. Therefore, making a hasty decision without giving further consideration to possible fluctuations in heating materials may end up negatively affecting the company, the consulting firm may, in turn, lose credibility, and clients may lose money, which would all invalidate the writer’s claim.

Second, in addition to providing the aforementioned evidence, before the consulting firm advises the client to invest in Consolidating Industries, they need to provide more evidence in regard to the decreasing climate in northeastern America. As we know, weather conditions are volatile and quite susceptible to erratic changes. Without being certain that weather conditions won’t fluctuate drastically in the years to come, the consulting firm should not encourage an investment with such ease. If the climate begins to gradually increase over the next couple of years, the need for heating oil would, consequentially, likely be met with a gradual decrease in sales, and the writer’s claim will be negatively influenced; however, if evidence proves that weather conditions will remain consistent or gradually decrease, the writer’s claim will be fortified.

Furthermore, we need to know whether more homes in the region are directly associated to an increased population rate in these regions and a higher demand for home oil. Perhaps, some of the homes bought in this region may only be used as summer homes, and the owners may visit only in warmer months of the year, thus they would have little need for home heating oil. Additionally, there may be better, more efficient ways of heating homes in the future, for example, using new construction materials to improve insulation of homes, which could severely diminish or completely eliminate the need for heating oil. If evidence proves any of the above-mentioned scenarios, the author’s conclusion will be unwarranted.

Lastly, in the final words of the letter, the writer recommends that the client invest in Consolidating Industries due to their prominence in the home heating oil sales market. However, we need further evidence to guarantee that Consolidating Industries’s success will persist in the future; perhaps other companies will outnumber Consolidating Industries in sales and flourish in years to come. If this were to be the case, then the client would end up losing the money initially invested in Consolidating Industries. Therefore, the consulting firm should first carry out risk assessment measures, then advise their client on the foundation of their findings. If evidence shows that other companies are predicted to surpass Consolidating Industries in the future, or possess the potential to do so, then the writer’s original recommendation would lose force.

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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