The brief passage:
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.
The author makes an argument that Quiot Manufacturing should shorten each of the work shifts by one hour in the hope that the shortened shift will provide the employees with more time for sleep and thus reduce the number of on-the -job accidents and meanwhile increase productivity. However, there exist some assumptions, which may be unwarranted, and the argument is therefore untenable / vulnerable / indefensible.
The author assumes that the job at Quiot Manufacturing is the same as the job at Panoply Industries. However, the jobs may be different, and different jobs may have different levels of risk of accidents. For example, workers at Quiot Manufacturing may need to deal with hazardous materials during production whereas workers at Panoply Industries may not. In this case, it is the content of the job that causes the greater number of on-the-job accidents.
Another assumption is that the on-the-job accidents at Quiot Manufacturing are those accidents mentioned by the experts. However, it may not be the case. Accidents at Quiot may be outside the many accidents that the experts mention. In this case, it may be unfair to attribute accidents at Quiot to fatigue or sleep deprivation.
Even if the reason for the accidents at Quiot Manufacturing is due to fatigue and sleep deprivation, the reduced time of each work shift does not guarantee workers’ adequate sleep. However, the author assumes that the time will be used for rest. As a matter of fact, the time cut off the shift can be used for entertainment instead of sleep.
Last but not least, the author makes a questionable assumption that the reduced number of on-the-job accidents will increase productivity. However, the author fails to consider that the shorter shift may on one hand reduce the number of accidents and one the other hand reduce productivity. In addition, a manufacturer’s productivity depends on many other factors rather than solely the number of accidents. If those other contributors decline, productivity will not surely increase.
In light of the above, only if the aforementioned assumptions were justified could the argument be tenable. Otherwise, the author should not expect the predicted results as the result of one-hour reduction.