ARG-144

The following appeared in a letter to the editor of the Balmer Island Gazette.

"The population on Balmer Island doubles during the summer months. During the summer, then, the town council of Balmer Island should decrease the maximum number of moped rentals allowed at each of the island's six moped and bicycle rental companies from 50 per day to 30 per day. This will significantly reduce the number of summertime accidents involving mopeds and pedestrians. The neighboring island of Torseau actually saw a 50 percent reduction in moped accidents last year when Torseau's town council enforced similar limits on moped rentals. To help reduce moped accidents, therefore, we should also enforce these limitations during the summer months."


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 letter to the editor of the Balmer Island Gazette, the writer states that if the maximum number of moped rentals allowed at each of Balmer island’s six moped and bicycle retail companies was reduced, there would be less summertime accidents involving mopeds and pedestrians. While this could be valid, as there were similar results observed on the neighboring island of Torseau, there are a few assumptions that need to be taken into further consideration.


First of all, the writer makes the assumption that the number of accidents involving mopeds and pedestrians has seen a decrease on the island of Torseau due solely to the limit placed on the number of mopeds that can be rented. While this may be true, there is no specific evidence in the letter that supports this claim; it is likely that the decrease in number of accidents on Torseau is not linked to the moped restriction and is due, instead, to other factors, such as increased levels of safety awareness among moped drivers and pedestrians, more attention paid to road conditions, or stricter penalties for accidents. If these are the true reasons, then the writer’s assumption would be unwarranted, and it would be unlikely that Balmer island would observe a decrease in accidents.


Furthermore, even if there is evidence to prove that the decrease in moped and pedestrian accidents on the island of Torseau is directly related to the lower amount of mopeds able to be rented, there is still another assumption that cannot be overlooked: are the two islands comparable? In his/her letter, the writer immediately makes the assumption that the two islands are comparable, presuming that results seen on Torseau island will, with minor adjustments to moped rental regulations, manifest themselves on Balmer island. However, road conditions, weather conditions, and island development could differ drastically on the two islands. If, after thorough examination, it is found that the two islands are not comparable for a variety of reasons, then the writer’s assumption in this regard would be ungrounded, and the expected results may not be seen.


Granted that the two islands are comparable, whether limiting the amount of rentable mopeds on Balmer island is feasible and effective should be considered. If the island does not have a subway system or regular buses, as it is hardly affordable to build and run a public transportation system on a touristic island, there would be a sharp increase in the number of pedestrians on the street. This would bring about more tension on the roads, leading to more accidents. In addition, reducing the total amount of mopeds could, in turn, drive up the prices of rentable mopeds available, which would force people to search for other rental service, such as bicycle rentals, or alternative vehicle rentals. People may be just as reckless when they ride the bike or operate vehicles as they drive mopeds, and, if this were to be the case, there would be increasing accidents between vehicle and pedestrians, which would be another nuisance to the town council. The writer seemingly overlooks the implications of this moped restriction, rendering the trajectory of his claim, along with the logic supporting it, slightly askew.


Lastly, there is another assumption worth analyzing. In the writer’s letter, he/she assumes that lowering the number of rentable mopeds is the only method to solve the problem at hand. While this may be a valid point, the writer should not be so limited when it comes to possible solutions to the problem. Perhaps there are other methods that could accelerate the decrease in accidents, such as constructing wider pedestrian walk ways, where only pedestrians can walk and vehicles of all kind are restricted; marking pedestrian walk ways with clear lines; investing in more road signs; or promoting safety awareness on the island. If the writer does not give consideration to other procedures that could potentially be more effective in reducing accidents, then the island may not see a conspicuous decline in accidents for a long while.


In conclusion, in the above-mentioned letter, the writer makes a few assumptions regarding the correlation between moped restriction and decline in moped-pedestrian accidents, comparability of Torseau island and Balmer island, effectiveness of moped restriction, and the lack of other methods of amelioration. If any of the assumptions listed above are proven to be unwarranted, the island may not observe the predicted results stated in the letter.

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