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The reasoning exercise is an essential element when making decisions. However, what most people do not understand is that to make an appropriate decision it has to be based on a criterion. In this research, the eight components of reasoning and fallacies are used to analyze a case study. The case study is about a college student who deliberately decided to fail the exams because he did not see the significance of a degree. The arguments that are presented appear valid. However, when the arguments are subjected to the eight components of reasoning, it is evident his decision to fail the final semester exams was inappropriate. The research also uses the fallacies to address some of the misconceptions that might have made the student to make the decision. Considerably, the outcome of the analysis of the student’s choice demonstrates the need for one to control the thinking process.
The situations presented in the case study reveal a lot about some of the unthinkable decisions that people seem to make in their lives. To many, education is one of the avenues that people use to attain their future ambitions. Significantly, when a person’s GPA at the college is high, then, this means that such a person is likely to get better employment opportunities. However, Giorgi Managadze a well-performing student who was supposed to be the Valedictorian during the graduation of the University of Maryland decided to fail in his exams purposefully. When one takes an exam, for many, the target is passing. However, it is unimaginable for a potential student such as Giorgi Managadze to decide to fail his exams. From this case, people will argue that he did not make the appropriate decision. However, in the letter, Giorgi Managadze seems to be arguing out his and defending his actions. Therefore, to understand this, it is essential one evaluates Giorgi Managadze assertions based on the elements of reasoning and also look at the fallacies so that to determine the validity of the arguments that he had presented in the letter.
The first step in the reasoning process is there must be a purpose. Reasoning is an exercise that is guided by some objective. Eichhorn (2002) reveals that when one fails at this first step then the subsequent ones will not result in the desired outcome. The purpose defines how the decision will be shaped. However, it is important to note that the goal should be clear. In Giorgi Managadze’s case, various purposes make him consider failing the exams. In the letter, Managadze gives many reasons; some are professional, but others are personal. According to Managadze, education affects the personality negatively. Managadze feels that when he graduates, this will make him be a servant of others at work. However, what one will question in this is that when you graduate with good grades, it is not an obligation that you get employed. Exams are a measure used to determine one’s output after going through a learning exercise, and therefore, his purpose for making the decision was inappropriate.
The second element of reasoning is that critical thinking should try and question an issue. Considerably, in the entire letter that Giorgi Managadze writes he is examining the role of passing exams and its connection to being successful in life. At this stage, Giorgi Managadze critical thinking initiatives could be noticed because he questions what education contributes to humanity. Arguably, Giorgi Managadze had issues with passing exams and success in life, and therefore he decided to question.
When engaging in critical thinking, the third step that one should understand is that every reasoning process is anchored on assumptions. In some instances, there are those occasions when something looks true even without the existence of a proof. When addressing the staff of Maryland in the letter, Giorgi Managadze argues that he wants to be his own Chief Executive Officer by starting his company. Considerably, it has been assumed that people who want to be entrepreneurs have to take risks and consider embracing bold decisions. The decision that Giorgi Managadze had opted for is a bold and a courageous one. However, Managadze had failed to think about the resources of starting a company. The assumption, in this case, is that since many entrepreneurs either quit school or employment opportunities to become successful business owners, therefore Giorgi Managadze would also be successful.
For a person engaging in a thoughtful process, it is evident that thinking happens from a particular perspective. In this case, it means that people would derive different meanings from an object or event depending on some biases. For instance, there is a difference between how a Muslim and a Christian will perceive at a certain dressing style. Arguably, the two people have differences in how they see a single object because of their religious perspectives. For this reason, it is not appropriate that one makes a generalized conclusion about a particular issue, event or aspect. In the letter, Giorgi Managadze argues that all the people who graduate are doing so because they have a fear of failure. According to Managadze, when these people graduate, they will get employed and serve as slaves in companies. Therefore, for fear of suffering the experiences, most people would prefer graduating so that they get employed. However, what Giorgi Managadze fails to acknowledge is that he comes from a family where the stepfather’s employment status is the one that helped the family to access basic needs. In the letter, it is revealed that the stepfather had acquired a Ph.D. in Germany. Considerably, Giorgi Managadze has grown up in an environment where education is an avenue that makes one meet his or her basic needs. However, from other perspectives, there are those graduates who have been raised in entrepreneurial families, and they believe that education is ideal in making a person understand investment opportunities.
Significantly, an ideal decision-making exercise is anchored on data, information, and evidence. Data are those statistics that are used to show that there are those instances where X happened because of the presence of Y. For example, Giorgi Managadze would quote the employment statistics of fresh graduates in the workforce. In this case, Managadze could have said that 89% of those people that graduate from college are employed in industries. On the other hand, a certain percentage decide to engage in self-employment. From this example, then Managadze’s point of purposefully determining to fail would have been an appropriate alternative. On the other hand, information is a description of specific options. For instance, Giorgi Managadze would have given interview transcripts of graduates who express their views on self-employment or working for an organization. When these views are collected, then one will understand what the graduates feel about the issue of employment. After one has compared the results of the information exercise, then the evidence is deduced. For instance, if it is found that out of the 89% that seek employment in industries are less successful than those that opted for self-employment, then it could be argued that self-employment is the ideal alternative. However, from the case of Giorgi Managadze, there are no such data, information or evidence to show that the option that he chose is the ideal one.
Reasoning should be anchored on a particular conceptual framework and ideas. When one is making specific claims, it is crucial for a person to offer some theoretical perspectives that guide that decision. A decision should be proven by specific scholarly research. For instance, a lot of research reveals that an adult can make a rational decision as compared to an underage person. The reason for such allegations is because an adult is experienced and he or she has once witnessed certain events, and therefore they can make an informed decision. Thus, in this case, the concept that is used is that under normal circumstances adults are more exposed than the children. Also, the issue of mental age is another concept that could be used to support the assertion that adults are rational decision-makers. For this reason, when a person argues that a child should not be entrusted with sensitive duties, then, this can be proved because there are concepts that support such an approach. However, in the case of Giorgi Managadze what he argues about a college degree is not anchored on any concept. From his argument, no research shows that when a person gets a degree, it makes him or her not to be innovative. If Giorgi Managadze had explained that because of the intensive learning activities, a student’s IQ reduces and hence he or she will not be able to be self-employed, then, that could be appropriate. However, in the letter, it seems that Giorgi Managadze has negative emotions towards getting employed or having a degree. The arguments that are offered in Giorgi Managadze’s letter are not supported by any ideas or concepts from testable research.
For one to engage in the desired reasoning, it is important to note that the line of thought he or she is using has inferences or interpretation where conclusions can be derived. Inferences or interpretation are aspects that are anchored on evidence. In this case, it implies that when concluding, there should be some data or proof to interpret or draw meaning from. In the letter, Giorgi Managadze concludes that college education obscures a person from being self-employed. Considerably, this could be accepted, but Giorgi Managadze does not offer the data where he has been able to use in concluding. In the letter, Giorgi Managadze mentions Steve Jobs who dropped out of college and became successful. Considerably, Giorgi Managadze can anchor his arguments on Jobs’ success because some circumstances happen due to luck. If it is that college dropouts will always be successful entrepreneurs, there should be some consistent method that guides towards this conclusion. Alternatively, some college dropouts are not successful, and their plight is not being highlighted because the media is not interested.
Lastly, it is crucial to understand that in any reasoning exercise there are implications and consequences. A decision that one takes could have either positive or negative outcomes depending on circumstantial or planned factors. Therefore, when reasoning it is not outright that it will generate the desired results. In Giorgi Managadze’s letter, it seems that he is sure that by failing the college exams he will become a successful entrepreneur. It is important to realize some factors may either promote his ambitions while others may make Giorgi Managadze unsuccessful.
In his letter, Managadze uses the fallacy of Ad hominem where he focuses on personalities instead of demonstrating why he had chosen to fail the final semester exams deliberately. In the letter, Managadze indicates that he was not sure of any of his professors who inspired him. Considerably, professors are persons that are respected because of their scholarly success. As such, when someone reads the letter and notices that Managadze was insinuating that neither of the professors had inspired him, it easy for one to accept that educational success is not essential in the life of a person. However, in the whole arrangement, Managadze wanted to disparage university education and promote his beliefs about not valuing a degree.
The second type of fallacy that is used in this Managadze’s letter is an appeal to ignorance. In the letter, Managadze concentrates on the success of Steve Jobs. Managadze indicates that he derives a lot of admiration from Steve Jobs. Considerably, Steve Jobs is among the people who managed to succeed despite not dropping out of college. Therefore, what Managadze tries to demonstrate is that considering that Steve Jobs managed to start one of the successful companies, then, it implies that college dropouts are successful entrepreneurs. Considerably, what Managadze seems to suggest is that considering that there is evidence that a college dropout managed to run one of the profitable companies, then, being a drop out makes one have entrepreneurial skills.
Managadze uses hasty generalizations on people who finished their university education successfully. In the letter, Managadze argues that after graduation, the graduates will work for others for many years; something he says he cannot do. Considerably, the need to access education is because the learner wants to gain skills that will make him or her competitive in the job market. However, this does not mean that all the people who graduate successfully do not have the ability to start their businesses. To Managadze, so long as one goes through the college education successfully, then, that means that he or she wants to be employed by an organization. Notably, this is a generalization against the people that finish school.
In satisfying his needs against college education, Managadze uses the fallacy of equivocation. According to this type of fallacy, one will use ambiguous definitions of words so that his interests are addressed (Almossawi, 2013). In the letter, Managadze uses philosophical definitions of words so that he suits his interests. For instance, Managadze (2017) says “failure” is like a lesson. Considerably, when one follows this argument, it is evident that failure has been given a positive perspective. When someone believes in Managadze’s definition, then, it is easy to consider failing exams as Managadze did. Ideally, failure is a lesson but a negative one. Managadze evades this part and concentrates on making it appear to be a typical experience.
In the letter, Managadze uses circular arguments to convince readers not to believe in college education. For instance, Managadze says “honest to absolutely everybody (starting with yourself) about absolutely everything absolutely all the time” (Managadze (2017). From this statement, the word ‘absolutely’ is the conclusion but he uses it in every section of the sentence. The intention, in this case, is to make someone believe that by striving to get an education is an absolute way of not believing in yourself.
- Almossawi, A. (2013). An illustrated book of bad arguments. The Experiment.
- Eichhorn, R. (2002). Developing thinking skills: critical thinking at the Army Management Staff College. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Managadze, G. (2017). A Letter to you from the Ex-Valedictorian of the University of Maryland. [LinkedIn Page]. Retrieved February 10, 2019, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/valedictorian-university-maryland-drops-out-school-two-managadze
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