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Manager
Joined: 03 Jan 2016
Posts: 100
Location: India
GMAT 1: 640 Q49 V29
GMAT 2: 760 Q51 V41
GPA: 3.2

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26 Mar 2017, 12:27
ESSAY QUESTION:

The following appeared in a trade publication for the insurance industry:

“Each generation of Americans has lived longer than the ones preceding it, as the national life expectancy has approached 80 years old in recent years. The progress of medical technology shows no sign of abating. Therefore, we can confidently predict that most children born in America in the next decade will live past the age of ninety.”

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 underlie 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 its conclusion.

The author of the article which appeared in the trade publication has claimed that most children born in America in the next decade will live past the age of ninety. However, the line of reasoning that the author has followed is problematic for several reasons.

First, the argument depends on the unwarranted assumption that the progress in medical technology has been responsible for the increase in national life expectancy. However, such an assumption is a stretch. There could be other factors that could have brought about the said increase. To illustrate, it may be the case that an increasingly larger proportion of people has gained access to basic healthcare. Additionally, if each succeeding generation of Americans has adopted a more active and a healthier lifestyle, or have devoted more attention to physical exercise, then this could have had a positive impact on their life expectancy. Also, if it were the case that national life expectancy in Americans was rising way before than the time when the progress in medical technology began, then this would be the evidence that medical technology is the only factor for the above increase. In order to strengthen his claim, the author must establish that the increase in life expectancy has been the direct consequence of the progress in medical technology, and this shall continue to be the case.

Second, the claim that most children born in the next decade will live past ninety years of age, lacks evidentiary support. The author provides no information on the amount by which the national life expectancy rises with each generation of Americans. If on an average, the national life expectancy only rises by one year with each generation, and if one generation is said to have passed every fifty years, then the conclusion of the argument would not logically follow. The author can corroborate his argument by explicitly mentioning all the relevant facts that provide support to his claim.

Finally, in his argument, the author uses vague language and does not provide details that are significant in evaluating his claim. He should explicitly mention how long does it take for one generation of Americans to pass, as this information is vital for evaluating whether one decade is enough time for one generation to pass.

In summary, the argument is flawed for the aforementioned reasons and is, therefore, unconvincing. If the author had included the items discussed above, then the argument would have been more thorough and sound.
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