GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument


80. The following appeared as part of a company memorandum.

Adopting an official code of ethics regarding business practices may in the long run do our company more harm than good in the public eye. When one of our competitors received unfavourable publicity for violating its own code of ethics, it got more attention from the media than it would have if it had no such code. Rather than adopt an official code of ethics, therefore, we should instead conduct a publicity campaign that stresses the importance of protecting the environment and assisting charitable organizations.


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 company memorandum suggests that, in lieu of adopting an official code of ethics, the company should conduct a publicity campaign that stresses the importance of promoting certain societal interests.

The reason for the suggestion is that an official code of ethics might harm the company in the public eye because a competing company received unfavourable publicity for violating its own ethics code.

This argument is unconvincing, since it depends on several unwarranted assumptions as well as arguing against its own conclusion.

First of all, the author unfairly assumes that the two companies are sufficiently similar to ensure the same consequences of adopting an ethics code for this company as for its competitor. The competitor may have adopted an entirely different code from the one this company might adopt - perhaps with unrealistic standards not embraced by any other companies. Perhaps the competitor's violation was extremely egregious amounting to an aberration among businesses of its type. Or perhaps one notorious executive is solely responsible for the competitor's violation.

Any of these scenarios, if true, would show that the two companies are dissimilar in ways relevant to the likelihood that this company will experience similar violations and similar publicity if it adopts any ethics code.

Secondly, the author's proposal is inconsistent with his own conclusion about the consequences of adopting an ethics code. The author suggests that, instead of adopting an ethics code, this company should stress the importance of protecting the environment and assisting charitable organizations. This proposal is itself tantamount to adopting an ethics code. In this sense, the author suggests going against his own advice that the company should not adopt such a code.

In conclusion, differences between this company and its competitor may undermine the author's conclusion that this company should not adopt an ethics code. To better evaluate the argument, we need more information about company memorandum's suggestion that, in lieu of adopting an official code of ethics, the company should conduct a publicity campaign that stresses the importance of promoting certain societal interests.

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