Monday, June 12, 2006

Argument Essay - 1

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.

The following appeared in a newspaper feature story. "At the small, non-profit hospital in the town of Saluda, the average length of a patient's stay is two days ; at the large, for-profit hospital in the near by city of Megaville, the average patient's stay is six days.Also, the cure rate among patients in the Saluda hospital is about twice that of the Megaville hospital. The Saluda hospital has more employees per patient than the hospital in Megaville and there are few complaints about service at the local hospital.Such data indicate that treatment in smaller, non-profit hospitals is more economical and of better quality than treatment in larger, for profit hospitals".

Outline -


1). The author uses the terms small hospitals and big hospitals without clarifying "small" and " big " hospitals.

2). Number of patients treated by the small hospital at Saluda and the number of patients treated by the larger hospital at Megaville were not mentioned to make any meaningful comparison.

3). The author does not provide any reasons for differences in length of stay at the two hospitals.

4). The author does not prove that non-profit hospitals are less costly than for-profit hospitals for the same illnesses.

5). No details are given to prove that cure is faster in small non-profit hospitals for the same illnesses.

6). The author has not brought out the difference in the infrastructure, professional expertise of the hospital staff, availablity of super specialists and methods of treatment used.

7). The author does not specify the costs and cure data of patients at both the hospitals.

8). The geographical location and size of the hospitals restrict the type and class of patients.This has not been stated in the passage.

9). The author does not give information about the nature of complaints received at the hospitals.

Remark - The fallacy is one of faulty analogy.Two hospitals are similar in some ways but the author makes unsustainable comparison and draws a wrong conclusion that treatment in smaller, non-profit hospitals is more economical and of better quality than treatment in larger for profit hospitals.


The author concludes that the treatment in smaller non-profit hospitals is more economical and of better quality than treatment in larger, for profit hospitals. This argument suffers from several flaws which render it unconvincing.

Firstly, the author has not given details about the number and illnesses of patients treated by the small hospital at Saluda and the larger hospital at Megaville to make any meaningful comparison.

Secondly, it is generally true that a small hospital has not many specialist departments and so the patients admitted there suffer from minor ailments.This fact can be inferred from the statement that the average length of patients' stay is only two days.Small hospitals may admit patients who report there due to emergency and when the emergency passes, the patients get discharged and they report to a big hospital for further treatment as big hospitals have lot many facilities.Further, chronic and serious illness patients are confident of getting better treatment at big hospitals.So they seek admission there and the stay at the big hospital is of longer duration.It is also not clear from the given argument that patients who stayed for two days and discharged from the small hospital were fully cured of the disease.In many cases, it happens that the small hospitals recommend their patients whose ailments are of serious nature to be admitted in larger hospitals for better treatment as those hospitals only have and/or afford to have super specialty departments. It is incorrect to state that small hospitals give better treatment on the basis of duration of stay of patients.

Thirdly, the author states that there are few complaints by the patients at the small hospitals. This could be because their stay was for a short duration of two days and they suffer from minor ailments.Since the treatment is also almost free in a non-profit hospital, patients do not complain.

Fourthly, the author simply states without evidence that the treatment in smaller hospitals is economical and of better quality.One cannot justify the economy in the treatment only on the basis that the patients are discharged within two days.We should look into the nature of the diseases and the condition of patients at the time of admissions and then only compare the costs in the small and large hospitals to decide in which place the treatment is economical.

Fifthly, the author uses the terms large hospital and small hospital vaguely without clarifying them. We do not know how he classifies them whether on the number of beds, or staff or number of patients treated or buildings.

Sixthly, the author has compared the data of only one small hospital at Saluda with that of one large hospital at Megaville.The data is insufficient to draw a general conclusion that in all smaller hospitals the treatment is economical and of better quality.

Finally, the author states that there are more employees per patient at the small hospital, of Saluda compared with that of Large hospital at Megaville.There may be less number of patients at the small hospital and hence the staff strength per patient worked out more.It is incorrect to use it to conclude that the service at Saluda hospital is better.

In sum, the argument is weak on several grounds.To strengthen the conclusion, the author must provide clear evidence of the number of patients treated, their diseases and treatment given to them along with the costs for both Saluda hospital and Megaville hospital and compare them to support his conclusion.The author should also clarify what he means by big hospital and small hospital as the terms "small" and "big" are relative and are used ambiguously in the argument.


Cooool said...

sexxxxyyy argument
u r just 2 good
i cud come up wid only 3
u stated 7
i reallly need to galvanize my criticizing cerebral
thanx a lot

Patrick S. Lee said...

oh my god. i love your blog. i actually respect you.