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02 Sep 2012, 16:00
My first attempt at an argument task. I timed myself and found that I did not feel as rushed as in the issue task. Any critique would be most appreciated.

Nature's Way, a chain of stores selling health food and other health-related products, is opening its next franchise in the town of Plainsville. The store should prove to be very successful: Nature's Way franchises tend to be most profitable in areas where residents lead healthy lives, and clearly Plainsville is such an area. Plainsville merchants report that sales of running shoes and exercise clothing are at all-time highs. The local health club has more members than ever, and the weight training and aerobics classes are always full. Finally, Plainsville's schoolchildren represent a new generation of potential customers: these schoolchildren are required to participate in a fitness-for-life program, which emphasizes the benefits of regular exercise at an early age.

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted

The argument that a Nature Way store would be successful in Plainsville is weak for several reasons. First it assumes that residents of Plainsville will buy health food and other health-related products. Second it assumes that the citizens of Plainsville do not have access to such products already. Finally it assumes that schoolchildren exposed to fitness programs at an early age will continue those healthy habits as they grow into adulthood.

First, the assumption that the citizens of Plainsville will buy Nature's Way products is unwarranted because there is no evidence that running and fitness club membership leads to buying healthy foods and other health-related products such as supplements. The argument could be strengthened if Nature's Way had research on a link between fitness club memberships and runners actually purchasing healthy foods, supplements and the like. If no such research exists, then there is no way of knowing if there is a market for Nature's Way products. Opening a store in an unknown market is a risky venture.

Second, there is an unwarranted assumption that the citizens of Plainsville do not have access to health foods and other health-related products. This assumption is weak because there is absolutely no evidence in the statement that this is true. The argument would be more valid if the author had facts showing that there are no similar stores such as Nature's Way in the area and that the citizens do not access to healthy products. Even then, there is always the option of ordering online. As such, a Nature Way's store in Plainsville may not be needed at all.

Finally, the argument that children who participate in fitness programs will represent a new generation of potential customers is invalid because there is no way of knowing if these children will maintain healthy lifestyles as they become adults. The argument would be more convincing if the author had cited studies that show a relationship between children participating in fitness programs and maintaining those healthy habits into adulthood. Even if this were the case, as our society becomes more and more a cyber one there is a possibility that brick-and-mortar stores may become a relic of the past. To base the opening of a store on potential customers is hardly a strong business decision.

Therefore, it must be concluded that the argument relies heavily on several unwarranted assumptions that severely weaken it. The argument could have been more compelling if the author had evidence that people who exercise regularly actually buy health-related products, the people of Plainsville have no access to buy these products if they do wish to use them, and that children exposed to fitness programs tend to carry these habits into adulthood. Hence, the argument that the opening a Nature's Way store in Plainsville would be a great success is weak and invalid.
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