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Gre Argument 32

The following appeared in a memo from a vice president of Quiot Manufacturing.

"During the past year, Quiot Manufacturing had 30 percent more on-the-job accidents than at the nearby Panoply Industries plant, where the work shifts are one hour shorter than ours. Experts say that significant contributing factors in many on-the-job accidents are fatigue and sleep deprivation among workers. Therefore, to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents at Quiot and thereby increase productivity, we should shorten each of our three work shifts by one hour so that employees will get adequate amounts of sleep."

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.

It seems true at the first look that shorten work shifts can leave workers more time to sleep and thus, to benefit the Quiot Manufacturing with an increase in its productivity. However, this conclusion is based on a series of unsubstantiated assumptions, which make the conclusion a little bit unconvincing.

First, the author simply assumes that the smaller number of on-the-job accidents in Panoply Industries is due to their shorter work shifts. We do not know any other thing about Panoply Industries, and so we could not rule out other possible factors that could also result in less on-the-job accidents. For example, the working in Panoply Industries may just be less dangerous than that in Panoply Industries; or Panoply Industries has had their workers attend special trainings on working safety. There are many possibilities due to the possible differences between the two companies, thus we cannot just regard the 30 percent more on-the-job accidents of Panoply Industries as a result of longer work shifts.

Second, the arguer's assumption about the workers' use of the spare time is unwarranted. The author assumes that workers in Panoply Industries will use the extra 1 hour off time to get more sleep, this is merely one of a myriad of other possibilities. Workers may use the 1 hour to do whatever they like to do, they may entertain themselves in front of the television, hang out with their friends, have a drink in the bar, or just play with their children at home, we just do not know. And if they do use the extra time on something like drinking, I do not see any possibility that it could reduce the on-the-job accidents, for it may even cause bad effects, thus acts against the primary goal of shortening the work shifts. So, with this assumption unwarranted, the conclusion that shorter work shifts can let workers to get adequate amounts of sleep which is based on it is unreasonable.

Third, the assumption that a reduction in the number of on-the-job accidents will lead to an increase in the company's productivity is also groundless. Granted that shorter work shifts can reduce the number of on-the-job accidents, it does not necessarily mean an increase in the company's productivity. The reduce in the number of on-the-job accidents may due to slower working paces of the workers, they just produce more slowly and more carefully so to prevent themselves from being injured, and this may just result in a decrease in both the number of on-the-job accidents and the productivity of the company. Furthermore, if the company shorten the work shifts, the action itself will very likely to decrease the productivity, for there is less time for workers to make products. Thus, with these possibilities, the causal relationship between shortening work shifts and increasing the company's productivity is vague.

In conclusion, though well-intentioned the argument is, it is not so convincing with the above-mentioned assumptions. But if the arguer can justify those assumptions, then the argument can certainly be better supported.

Submitted by: milklover

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