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Critical Thinking for Business

Chapters 2 › Unit 2: Identifying and assessing assumptions View instructions Hide instructions

Identifying and assessing assumptions

A. Example. All these six statements are arguments and each has a conclusion and just one stated premise. So, all of them must have one hidden premise; each reasoning is therefore based on one key assumption.

Let’s take the last example:

If you want a high-quality service, you should buy an Xphone SIM card. You know, Xphone is the biggest telecommunication company in Europe.

Premise: Xphone is the biggest telecommunication company in Europe.
Conclusion: If you want a high-quality service, you should buy an Xphone SIM card.

What is the assumption?
What would be the hidden premise that completes the statement? My best take is:

"The size of a company is a good indicator of the quality of its services."

Is it true?
We have identified the assumption. Should we trust it? Do you think it is a true premise? I hope you agree that it’s not. There are plenty of counterexamples where market leaders do not necessarily have the best services. They might have other competitive advantages, like lower price, or a better distribution network. I’m not going to name names here, but I’m sure you can think of some.

Please reevaluate the statement!
Now, having identified and evaluated the assumption, let’s have you assess the initial statement again:

If you want a high-quality service, you should buy a Xphone SIM card. You know, Xphone is the biggest telecommunication company in Europe.

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Did anything change comparing to your first assessment?

B. Your turn!

Please analyze all the other statements in the same manner. More precisely, for each statement from 1 to 5 please fill in the next questionnaire in your journal. It is important to actually write down the assumption.

1. This job is for the company’s reception desk, so we need a mature lady. It’s important that our clients feel an atmosphere of trust and professionalism the moment they enter the building.
What is the assumption?
Is it true?
Please reevaluate the statement

2. Mike is really successful! He’s not 30 yet and he already has a three thousand Euros salary.
What is the assumption?
Is it true?
Please reevaluate the statement:

3. The traffic in Bucharest is getting more civilized. I know this because the total amount of speeding tickets decreased 12% y.o.y.
What is the assumption?
Is it true?
Please reevaluate the statement:

4. It is time for France to decide on all major issues through referendums. Between 1995 and 2005 the Swiss citizens voted in 31 referenda answering no less than 103 questions, compared to only 2 in France.
What is the assumption?
Is it true?
Please reevaluate the statement:

5. I’m the client. It’s my money, so I get to decide the terms of the deal.
What is the assumption?
Is it true?
Please reevaluate the statement:

C. Interpreting the results.
Are there any differences between your first and your second evaluations? For how many of the 5 statements? Did any of your new evaluations cross the middle line? Please take a moment to think about what external influence made you change your mind! You can find out my comments at the beginning of the next unit.

2.1 Assumption exercise step 2

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  1. This job is for the company’s reception desk, so we need a mature lady. It’s important that our clients feel an atmosphere of trust and professionalism the moment they enter the building.
    What is the assumption?
    That only a mature lady will create an atmosphere of trust and professionalism.
    Is it true?
    No.
    Please reevaluate the statement
    5 (previous 6).

  2. Mike is really successful! He’s not 30 yet and he already has a three thousand Euros salary.
    What is the assumption?
    Earning is the measure of success.
    Is it true?
    Partially.
    Please reevaluate the statement:
    6 (previous 3)

  3. The traffic in Bucharest is getting more civilized. I know this because the total amount of speeding tickets decreased 12% y.o.y.
    What is the assumption?
    Speeding is a measurement of civilized traffic.
    Is it true?
    Partially.
    Please reevaluate the statement:
    4 (previous 3)

  4. It is time for France to decide on all major issues through referendums. Between 1995 and 2005 the Swiss citizens voted in 31 referenda answering no less than 103 questions, compared to only 2 in France.
    What is the assumption?
    Referendums are the only way throught wich major issues can be resolved.
    Is it true?
    No.
    Please reevaluate the statement:
    4 (previous 4).

  5. I’m the client. It’s my money, so I get to decide the terms of the deal.
    What is the assumption?
    Whoever has the money, decides
    Is it true.
    No.
    Please reevaluate the statement:
    3 (previous 3).

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