"In a recent citywide poll, 15 percent more residents said that they watch television programs about the visual arts than was the case in a poll conducted five years ago. During these past five years, the number of people visiting our city's art museums has increased by a similar percentage. Since the corporate funding that supports public television, where most of the visual arts programs appear, is now being threatened with severe cuts, we can expect that attendance at our city's art museums will also start to decrease. Thus some of the city's funds for supporting the arts should be reallocated to public television."
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 mayneed to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. Youcan 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 its conclusion.
The argument is not very well-reasoned. The author attempts to link the similar increase in two different things – citywide poll regarding TV programs on visual arts and the number of museum visitors. The author also states that since the corporate sponsorship for TV programs may decrease, it will also lead to a decline in the number of museum visitors.
The author assumes that the lack of sponsorship will lead to a decline in the number of TV programs on visual arts and ignores that the programs may be self-sufficient. It also assumes that the population watching the TV programs (as per the poll) and the visitors to museum are very similar – hence the decline in one will mean a decline in the other too. However, this might not be true. Thus, the line of reasoning is flawed.
To strengthen the argument, the author must provide evidence that TV programs will not be able to run at the same frequency (number of shows per week) or even stop broadcasting without corporate sponsorship. It should also prove that there is a significant overlap between people who watch visual art TV programs and those who visit museums in the city. It is possible that the two sets of people are very different since one may prefer watching art in TV while the other may appreciate it only in the museum.
To weaken the argument, it may be proven that the two sets of people are very different by analysing in detail the population going to the museum and the people who took the poll. Also, any evidence of self-sufficiency or sponsorship from sources other than corporates (eg, any arts supporting organisations will prove that the TV programs will continue to run with the same frequency.
To better evaluate the argument, analysing any historical evidence of the impact of withdrawal of corporate sponsorships may be useful. Also, studying changes in the demographics in the city in the last five years and changes in preferences of people will be useful. The underlying causes for increase in TV viewers of art programs and museum visitors should also be assessed to gain better understanding.
Hence, the argument suffers from logical flaws and the above mentioned evidence will help to assess it better.