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Argument 6: GRE Arctic Deer Population Essay - With A Free Essay Review
“Prompt: Arctic deer live on islands in Canada's arctic regions. They search for food by moving over ice from island to island during the course of the year. Their habitat is limited to areas warm enough to sustain the plants on which they feed and cold enough, at least some of the year, for the ice to cover the sea separating the islands, allowing the deer to travel over it. Unfortunately, according to reports from local hunters, the deer populations are declining. Since these reports coincide with recent global warming trends that have caused the sea ice to melt, we can conclude that the purported decline in deer populations is the result of the deer's being unable to follow their age-old migration patterns across the frozen sea. Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.”
In this argument, the author concluded that the reported decline of arctic deer population living on islands in Canada's arctic regions is the result of ice melting, which make their age-old migration patterns across the frozen ice impossible and thereby limit their access to the islands with enough food resource. To justify such claim, the author provides the arctic deer’s living-pattern in detail, which is highly dependent on the frozen ice jointing the separated islands. At first glance, the manager’s reasoning seems to be convincing and logical. However, close scrutiny of this argument reveals that it is invalid in several aspects.
To begin with, the author assumes the report from local hunters exactly reflects the trend of arctic deer population. Although the decline trend is entirely possible, argument lacks enough evidence to substantiate such assumption. It might be quite possible that such report was only generated from a small number of local hunters without enough preys recently. Or the respondents of the participants involving in this report may be on the other side of the practical setting, because they may want the government to take some protective measures on the arctic deer or some other reasons. As a matter of fact, if either case is true, the conclusion the argument drew based on is highly questionable.
Next, even if the result of the report is representative of the deer population trend, the author unfairly claims that such decline is the result of global warming-rather than some other phenomenon. In fact, the author ignores a host of other possible reasons for the population decline of arctic deer. Perhaps, in current months, the arctic deer suffered from one kind of rare disease, which render the significant population decline. Or perhaps, during the past several years, the price of deer raised a lot, which lead to more and more people, even some from other regions, began to hunt for the arctic deer. Consequently, the over-hunting for the arctic deer could kill most of the female antic deer; at last, makes the number of arctic deer fewer and fewer. In short, without ruling out all other possible explanations for the decline of arctic deer population, the author cannot convince me that such population decline is attributed to the ice melting.
In sum, the conclusion reached in this argument is invalid and misleading. To make it logically acceptable, the arguer would have to provide more information to remove all the consideration stated above.
You end your essay by saying the conclusion of the original argument is invalid. Whether the conclusion is in fact valid or not, however, is not what you are being asked to determine. In any case, we cannot tell whether the conclusion is valid or not, since we don’t have enough evidence to evaluate the conclusion, which of course is the point of the instructions. You need to identify the kind of evidence that would help you evaluate the conclusion. You do this only implicitly, whereas you ought to do it explicitly. So, for example, your first claim is that the original argument is based on an assumption that the report accurately reflects the trend of the arctic deer population. It’s fine to begin by identifying such an assumption, but you must then specify what evidence would be needed to test whether that assumption is correct. So, for example, instead of speculating that the “report was only generated from a small number of local hunters,” you need to say something like: “In order to evaluate the claim that the population of deer has declined, we need to know how reliable the hunters report is, and to find that out we would need to know whether they have reliably surveyed all the islands.” That’s a fairly general way of identifying the evidence we need, but your task here is not to specify the detailed mechanism by which the information would be acquired. You then need to explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument. That, again, means that you need to make an explicit statement: “If the hunters are basing their report on an incomplete survey of the islands, then it would be wrong to trust the report. If the report seems to based on an adequate survey of deer population throughout the islands, however, then there is good reason to credit the report.” (Note: I am not saying that this is the “correct answer” but rather that it is the correct type of answer.) You would go on from there to identify the evidence that would be needed to test the second part of the argument: if the report is credible, is the decline the result of the melting of the sea ice? You have already figured out some reasons why that might not be the case, so you just need to reorganize those claims so that they directly address the prompt.