GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument

32. The following appeared in the editorial section of a West Cambria newspaper.

A recent review of the West Cambria volunteer ambulance service revealed a longer average response time to accidents than was reported by a commercial ambulance squad located in East Cambria. In order to provide better patient care for accident victims and to raise revenue for our town by collecting service fees for ambulance use, we should disband our volunteer service and hire a commercial ambulance service.


Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.


In this argument the author concludes that West Cambria can increase revenues and provide better care to accident victims by disbanding the volunteer ambulance service and hiring a commercial one.

The author reasons that this change would yield additional revenues because service fees could be imposed for ambulance use.

The author also reasons that the city would provide better service to accident victims because a commercial service would respond more quickly to accidents than a volunteer service would.

The author's argument is flawed in two respects.

To begin with, the author's plan for raising revenue for West Cambria is questionable. Unless the service fees are considerable or the accident rate is extremely high, it is unlikely that significant revenues will be raised by charging a fee for ambulance use. Consequently, revenue generation is not a good reason to disband the volunteer service and hire a commercial service.

Next, the author's belief that better patient care would be provided by a commercial ambulance service than by a volunteer service is based on insufficient evidence. The fact that the commercial service in East Cambria has a lower average response time than the volunteer service in West Cambria is insufficient evidence for the claim that this will be the case for all commercial services. Moreover, the author's recommendation depends upon the assumption that response time to an accident is the only factor that influences patient care. Other pertinent factors - such as ambulance crew proficiency and training and emergency equipment - are not considered.

In conclusion, this argument is unconvincing. To strengthen the argument the author would have to show that substantial revenue for the town could be raised by charging service fees for ambulance use. Additionally, the author would have to provide more evidence to support the claim that commercial ambulance services provide better patient care than volunteer services.

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