Bad Arguments and Rationalization in Business

7 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017 Last revised: 15 Dec 2018

See all articles by R. Edward Freeman

R. Edward Freeman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jared D. Harris

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Bidhan L. Parmar

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

The following note attempts to catalog and analyze a set of flawed but common arguments made in business and organizational settings to drive strategic and operational decision-making. The arguments are deconstructed into syllogistic form—a set of premises leading to a conclusion—and analyzed for validity and soundness. The final part of this note pays attention to ways decision-makers can avoid such bad arguments and the rationalization that often goes hand in hand with them.

Excerpt

UVA-E-0406

Rev. Nov. 29, 2018

Bad Arguments and Rationalization in Business

The following note attempts to identify and analyze a few examples of flawed but common arguments made in business and organizational settings to drive strategic and operational decision-making. The arguments are deconstructed into syllogistic form—a set of premises leading to a conclusion—and analyzed for validity and soundness. The final part of this note pays attention to ways decision-makers can avoid such bad arguments and the rationalization that often goes hand in hand with them.

The Legal Defense: “Well, it ain't against the law”

This is a common defense for a variety of wildly profitable corporate maneuvers, including lobbying government officials, corporate inversion, and patent trolling. The below syllogism illustrates one of the most common structures of this argument:

. . .

Keywords: legal defense argument, bandwagon argument, professional argument

Suggested Citation

Freeman, R. Edward and Wicks, Andrew and Harris, Jared D. and Parmar, Bidhan L. and Mead, Jenny, Bad Arguments and Rationalization in Business. Darden Case No. UVA-E-0406. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974202

R. Edward Freeman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
804-924-0935 (Phone)
804-924-6378 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/freeman.htm

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

Jared D. Harris

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.darden.virginia.edu/harrisj

Bidhan L. Parmar

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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