The following appeared in the editorial section of a local newspaper:
“This past winter, 200 students from Waymarsh State College traveled to the state capitol building to protest against proposed cuts in funding for various state college programs. The other 12,000 Waymarsh students evidently weren’t so concerned about their education: they either stayed on campus or left for winter break. Since the group who did not protest is far more numerous, it is more representative of the state’s college students than are the protesters. Therefore the state legislature need not heed the appeals of the protesting students.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
The author makes the argument that since in the face of college funding cuts, only 200 students from Waymarsh State College traveled to the state capital to protest, this implies that the rest of the student body is not concerned about these funding cuts. The argument appears extremely flawed and filled with vague logic for a number of reasons.
The author’s assertion that since only 200 students traveled for the protest and the rest seem unconcerned about the funding cut is downright illogical. For instance, consider for a moment the parliament of United States. Only elected government officials take part in the parliamentary proceedings of the country, even though the laws being made in the parliament and the bills being passed affect the entire population of the country. The author of the statement would be better served to examine if the 200 students were indeed representing the 12,000 strong student body on campus. Sports
Furthermore, the author seems to imply that there is only one form of protest, which according to the statement is show of numbers who undertake some activity to make a point. It could be entirely possible that the 12,000 students on campus were showing their protest through non-participation in college or state sponsored activities. Non-participation has been used in politics effectively as a form of protest. Consider the example of Gandhi, who successfully led one of the largest non-participation movements at the time of independence of the Indian Subcontinent. If one were to consider this broadened definition of protest, then the author’s argument becomes baseless. It would in fact, mean that the majority of the students are showing protest through non-participation. Hence, falsifying the author’s conclusion regarding legislative action.
Additionally, the author’s statements appear superficial, for example, “The other 12000 students weren’t so concerned about their education.” The author seems to be expressing an opinion without providing any evidence whatsoever in its favor. In this instance, for example, the author could have validated his claim by offering support through a survey conducted by the University. The whole argument is actually structured rather superficially, where each statements and opinion is regarded as a fact by the author, leading to more far-fetched conclusions.
To reiterate, the argument as it stands appears extremely flawed for all the reasons mentioned above. Had the author offered additional support through data based on survey etc. the argument might have been more logical.