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I've been looking recently at the following argument but cannot see what the main conclusion is?

It has been proven that a smoker who quits smoking can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease to almost that of someone who has never smoked. Thus, quitting smoking is beneficial for the quitter.

But also quitting smoking is beneficial for the whole society. For example, the essays collected in the book “After Tobacco: What Would Happen If Americans Stopped Smoking?” show that if America became truly smoke free, the social, economic, and health consequences would be profound. To name just a few societal benefits demonstrated in that book, if every American smoker stopped smoking in 2006 by 2025 there would be almost 3 million deaths avoided and this would lead to a saving of $211 billion in health care costs. More than that, the American people quitting smoking would result in a massive surge of productivity in all industries across the American economy.

It is more or less safe to extrapolate the general tenor of these findings to a lot of other societies with similar social, economic and environmental conditions, Australia included. Thus, every Australian smoker who quits does good both to themselves and to the Australian society as a whole.

Is it the last sentence of the first paragraph, or the last paragraph? Or neither? Could someone please identify and explain to me why. Thank you

  • what do you "main conclusion", i suppose that's a matter of personal opinion, though you could try and guess which is more important (?) to the people who wrote the study – user6917 Jan 11 '17 at 22:41
  • Just the final conclusion. :) – Naomi Jan 11 '17 at 23:38
  • well, the final conclusion is trivially, in one sense, what appears at the end. sorry but i have no idea what you're getting to. unless you're asking whether not ending with something undermines it? – user6917 Jan 12 '17 at 4:25
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Looks like the question is asking whether the last sentence is "not a premise for anything else".

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The elements of reasoning, Munson and Black.

The sentence seems to contain two separate clauses:

  1. Quitting smoking is good for you (from the 1st paragraph)
  2. Quitting smoking is good for others (from the 2nd paragraph).

Neither clause is a premise for anything else, and their conjunction isn't either. So yes, the last sentence of the last paragraph is a final conclusion.

But then, the last sentence of the 1st is also a "final conclusion". You could try arguing that last sentence of the last paragraph is inferred from it as a premise. That though suggests that absolutely any conclusion we draw can be an "intermediate conclusion", as we can add trivial extensions to any conclusion. Then the claim to have reached a so called final conclusion is arbitrary, as I can always call it an intermediate one.

So if you want the distinction to be about inferences rather than grammar, sentence structure etc., they both are.

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The final conclusion is certainly in the last paragraph, the first and second paragraph are intermediate conclusions. This is because there is some tacit (weakly supported) inference made to get to the the assertions in the last paragraph.

Let's assume the authors of “After Tobacco: What Would Happen If Americans Stopped Smoking?” really did a careful analysis1, we still have non-healthcare costs, that is increased burden for social security by longer life expectancy. Those costs may very well outweigh increased productivity and saved healthcare costs.

It's a ghoulish argument, but that doesn't make it wrong.


1 and showed that what we save in smoking related healthcare cost is not offset by increased healthcare cost for late life illnesses

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