GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument


49. The following appeared in the editorial section of a local newspaper.

If the newsprint from every morning edition of the nation's largest newspaper were collected and rendered into paper pulp that the newspaper could reuse, about 5 million trees would be saved each year. But this kind of recycling is unnecessary, however, since the newspaper maintains its own forests to ensure an uninterrupted supply of paper.


Question


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.


Analysis


This editorial begins with the impressive statistic that five-million trees could be saved every year if the morning edition of the nation's largest newspaper were collected and rendered into pulp that the newspaper could reuse.

But then the author goes on to conclude that this kind of recycling is unnecessary, because the newspaper maintains its own forests to ensure an uninterrupted supply of paper.

This argument is seriously flawed by two unwarranted assumptions.

The first assumption is that the only reason to recycle the newspaper is to ensure a continuous supply of paper. The author reasons that since this need is currently met by the forests that the newspaper maintains, recycling is unnecessary. This reasoning is extremely short-sighted. Not only does the author fail to see the ecological advantages of preserving the trees, he also fails to see the obvious economic advantages of doing this. Moreover, using recycled paper is the best way to ensure a continuous paper supply because, unlike the forest, paper is a reusable resource.

The second assumption is that only the newspaper would have an interest in the pulp processed from its recycled morning edition. This is probably not the case, however, given the enormous market for recycled paper - for books, packaging and other newspapers and so on. Moreover, there is no direct connection between the newspaper that is recycled and those companies that find uses for the products of recycling. Accordingly, contrary to the author's assumption, there may be a great interest, indeed a need, for pulp from recycling the newspaper in question.

In conclusion, the author's claim that recycling the newspaper is unnecessary is not well-founded. To strengthen the argument the author would have to show that there are no other compelling reasons to recycle the newspaper besides the one cited in the editorial.

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