Previous Page An Argument 87.
The following appeared as part of a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.
It makes no sense that in most places fifteen year olds are not eligible for their driver's license while people who are far older can retain all of their driving privileges by simply renewing their license. If older drivers can get these renewals, often without having to pass another driving test, then fifteen year olds should be eligible to get a license. Fifteen year olds typically have much better eyesight, especially at night, much better hand-eye coordination and much quicker reflexes. They are also less likely to feel confused by unexpected developments or disoriented in unfamiliar surroundings and they recover from injuries more quickly. 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 15 year-olds should be eligible to obtain a driver's license. The author employs two lines of reasoning to reach this conclusion.
In the first, the author reasons that since older drivers can retain their driving privileges by simply renewing their licenses, 15 year-olds should be eligible to obtain a license.
In the second, the author reasons that 15 year-olds are physically more capable than older drivers of performing the various skills associated with driving a vehicle and thus should be eligible to get a license.
This argument is unconvincing for a couple of reasons.
In the first place, the author assumes that there are no relevant differences between 15 year-olds and older drivers that would justify treating them differently. This assumption is clearly mistaken. The major difference between the two groups and the major reason 15-year-olds are denied driving privileges is their relative lack of emotional maturity and social responsibility. This difference is sufficient to justify the policy of allowing older drivers to renew their driving privileges while at the same time denying these privileges to 15-year-olds.
In the second place, even if it is granted that fifteen year olds possess better night vision, reflexes, hand-eye coordination and are less disoriented in unfamiliar surroundings than older drivers, these abilities do not qualify them to obtain a driver's license. The author assumes that physical capabilities are the only attributes necessary to operate a motor vehicle. But this assumption is clearly mistaken. In addition to these abilities, drivers must be able to exercise good judgment in all types of driving situations and conditions and must be cognizant of the consequences of their decisions and actions when driving. It is because 15 year-olds typically lack these latter abilities that they are denied driving privileges.
In sum, the author's argument fails to take into consideration important differences between older drivers and 15 year-olds that justify denying driving privileges to the younger group while at the same time allowing older drivers to retain their privileges by simply renewing their license.