46. The following appeared in a memorandum from the directors of a security and safety consulting service.
Our research indicates that over the past six years no incidents of employee theft have been reported within ten of the companies that have been our clients. In analyzing the security practices of these ten companies, we have further learned that each of them requires its employees to wear photo identification badges while at work. In the future, therefore, we should recommend the use of such identification badges to all of our clients.
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 directors of a security and safety-consulting service conclude that the use of photo identification badges should be recommended to all of their clients as a means to prevent employee theft.
Their conclusion is based on a study that revealed that ten of their previous clients who use photo identification badges have had no incidents of employee theft over the past six-year period.
The directors' recommendation is problematic in several respects.
In the first place, the directors' argument is based on the assumption that the main reason for the lack of employee theft in the ten companies was the fact that their employees wear photo identification badges. However, the evidence revealed in their research establishes only a positive correlation between the lack of theft and the requirement to wear badges. It does not establish a causal connection between them.
Other factors, such as the use of surveillance cameras or spot checks of employees' briefcases and purses might have been responsible for lack of employee theft within the ten companies analyzed.
In the second place, the directors assume that employee theft is a problem that is common among their clients and about which all their clients are equally concerned. However, for some of their clients this might not be a problem at all. For example, companies that sell services are much less likely to be concerned about employee theft than those who sell products. Moreover, those that sell small products would be more concerned about theft than those that sell large products. Consequently, even if wearing badges reduces employee theft, it might not be necessary for all of the firm's clients to follow this practice.