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GRE Argument Re: Nature's Way, A Chain Of Stores Selling Health Food - With A Free Essay Review
"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 author concludes that Nature’s way will be successful when it opens its store in Plainsville. He bases his conclusion on the premise that Nature’s Way tends to be successful in towns where people live healthy lives. The author bases his argument on several unsubstantiated assumptions.
The first assumption that the author makes is that there are no other stores like Nature’s Way in Plainsville. Hence based on this assumption he claims that the store will be popular in Plainsville. However, there might be many stores like Nature’s Way in town, and therefore, because of the stiff market competition, Nature’s Way might not prove popular. If there are many stores like Nature’s way in the town, the authors claim that Nature’s way will be successful will be flawed.
Another assumption made is that the increase in sales of running shoes and exercise clothing means that the people in town lead healthy lives. However, this rise in sales may be due to other reasons such as exercise clothing and running shoes being in fashion. If this assumption proves to be wrong , the claim by the author that people in town lead healthy lives will be weakened.
Finally, the author assumes that schoolchildren attending the fitness for life program, which underscores the benefits of regular exercise will lead healthier lives. However, knowing the benefits of exercise does not mean that the children will start leading healthier lives. If the assumption that school children will lead healthier lives is proven unjustifiable, the store may not have school children as customers.
To conclude in order to make his argument persuasive, the author needs to address the assumptions made in the essay.
It doesn't go without saying that the author of the argument assumes that there are no other stores like Nature's Way in Plainsville. To be sure, the argument doesn't take account of that possibility, but who knows whether, in this hypothetical scenario, such an author would expect Nature's Way to be successful with or without competition. Of course, in that case, all you would need to say instead is that the author assumes that there is no source of viable competition that would threaten the profitability of a new store. More generally, you might say that the author assumes that there are no other factors whatsoever that would threaten the profitability of a new store (perhaps Plainsville is unlike other towns; perhaps it’s a town of self-styled intellectual skeptics who find, despite their commitment to pursuing a healthy lifestyle, the whole concept of a "health food store" nothing more than a marketing gimmick invented to justify inflated prices; perhaps it’s a town where people are so afraid of unhealthy food they all keep organically-fed chickens and grow their own naturally fertilized vegetables).
Ignore the last paragraph! Here's the important point. If you want to say that the author assumes X, you must also say why you think the author assumes X; i.e., to repeat the prompt, "be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions." You do not do this. An explanation should come in the form of an argument. Crudely:
1. The existence of other stores like Nature's Way in Plainsville would restrict the profitability of the new store.
2. The author bases his prediction of the likely profitability of the store only on the lifestyle of the Plainsvilleans.
3. The argument therefore implicitly assumes that there are no other stores like Nature's Way.
(Note that the premise of this argument is not necessarily true, which is why I questioned whether the assumption as specified is really an assumption).
Your next paragraph correctly identifies the most significant assumption of the argument. Again, much in this paragraph is implicit, including the reason why the assumption is an assumption. You also don't clarify the implications of the assumption proving unwarranted for the argument as a whole; you only clarify its implications for one of the claims on which the argument as a whole is based. (It's pedantic, perhaps, to insist that you should state explicitly what in this case really does go without saying, but there is no downside to adding to the end of the paragraph something like this: It follows that the argument that the store should be successful would be substantially weakened, since that argument is justified largely by the claim that the townsfolk lead healthy lifestyles, and the only other supporting evidence for that claim is the fact that the local health club has more members than ever, which is not in itself very compelling evidence given the fact that "more members than ever" could still be a very small number of members relative to the size of the population). That parenthetical clarification went on a bit longer than expected, but the point should be clear enough: explain, explain, explain. Your reader will not assume that you know what you are talking about, even when it is plain as day.