GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument


57. The following appeared as part of an article in a popular arts and leisure magazine.

The safety codes governing the construction of public buildings are becoming far too strict. The surest way for architects and builders to prove that they have met the minimum requirements established by these codes is to construct buildings by using the same materials and methods that are currently allowed. But doing so means that there will be very little significant technological innovation within the industry and hence little evolution of architectural styles and design, merely because of the strictness of these safety codes.


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


The conclusion of this argument is that technological innovation as well as the evolution of architectural styles and design will be minimized in the future.

The author's line of reasoning is that the imposition of strict safety codes on public buildings inhibits the evolution of architectural styles and design, because they discourage technological innovation within the building industry. Furthermore, the strictness of the codes governing public buildings discourages technological innovation because the surest way for architects and builders to pass the codes is to construct buildings that use the same materials and methods that are currently allowed.

This argument is unconvincing for two reasons.

In the first place, the author's conclusion goes beyond the evidence presented. The evidence cited pertains only to the construction of public buildings, yet the author draws a conclusion about the building industry as a whole. Technological innovation and architectural experimentation in style and design in the construction of private buildings is not precluded by the reasons cited. Consequently, in the absence of evidence that similar problems beset the construction of privately owned buildings, the author's conclusion is not warranted.

In the second place, it is not evident that the strict safety codes governing public buildings will have the effects predicted by the author. Architectural styles and design are not dictated solely by the materials or the methods employed in construction. Consequently, it is premature to conclude that little evolution in style and design will occur because the materials and methods will likely remain the same.

Moreover, technological innovation is not restricted to the use of new materials and methods. Significant technological innovation can be achieved by applying existing methods to new situations and by finding new uses for familiar materials.

In conclusion, the author has failed to make the case for the claim that technological innovation as well as the evolution of architectural styles and design will be minimized in the future.

To strengthen the argument the author will have to show that similar safety code restrictions impede the evolution of the design and the innovation of new technologies in the construction of private buildings. Additionally, the author must show that materials and methods are the prime determinants of architectural style and design.

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