Evaluating The Cohabitation Epidemic by Neil Clark Warren

6 June 2016

Evaluating The Cohabitation Epidemic Neil Clark Warren in his essay “The Cohabitation Epidemic” starts by using tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf’s case to mention the “cohabitation” issue and then quoting the data from the U.S Census Bureau and researcher Larry Bumpass to show that the number of people involved in cohabitation has significantly increased in the U.S in the last few decades. After that, Warren concludes that we should be alarmed over the recent increase of cohabiting couples. Before arguing against cohabitation, Warren introduces what kinds of people are cohabiting and why they are cohabiting. Followed by that, the author first uses the opinions from the bible to argue against cohabitation and then applies four strategies by comparing cohabitation and marriage to support marriage over cohabitation to lend the claim that a “ trial marriage” is unnecessary.

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Last, Warren uses the result from several studies to supplementally support the idea that there is no need for a “ trial marriage” because cohabiting couples have already known whether they should marry or not before making their final decisions and then restating his conclusion that the recent increase of cohabiting couples should cycle downward ( with our alarm over this issue ). After reading Warren’s essay, I think his essay should be unbelievable not only because there are a lot of fallacies involved but also because what Warren wrote about the comparisons between cohabitation and marriage tend to be weak to argue against cohabitation. One type of fallacy Warren used in his essay is false dilemma. This fallacy says “ there are only two alternatives to consider when there are actually more than two” (Lewis 187).

For example, the author asserts “ people who cohabit fall into two categories” and then explains that either such people want to benefit from living together or treat cohabitation as a form of trial marriage. In fact, other alternatives exist in this case. For instance, some partners are in a same sex relationship and are not allowed to marry in “ most U.S states.” Choosing cohabitation is an option for those couples who are in same sex relationships. False dilemma limits the application of Warren’s essay. This fallacy also proves Warren’s simplistic thought which means that he is not thinking outside the box, and critical thinking is undermined in such a way. Besides using false dilemma, another fallacy called hasty generalization is ubiquitous in Warren’s essay. For example, in order to support “ marriage has lost a lot of its luster in our society” (Lewis 505), the author quotes the statistic result from the survey he has made.

The problem here is readers are not informed in what way the samples are collected in this survey, and also the sample size is too small. Hasty generalization means drawing a conclusion about a target group based on an inadequate sample size. Applying hasty generalization makes readers difficult to believe that the result from the survey made by author is intended to support the claim. In addition, at the beginning of the “So Why Bother with Marriage?” part, the author states we should argue against cohabitation from a biblical standpoint because some Scriptures warn us in such a way. The fallacy of begging the question is used here. Begging the question uses the conclusion as a premise to establish an argument (Lewis 186).

Argument made by begging the question is not worth believing because it does not make sense by just repeating the conclusion as a premise but using different words. The author needs to use other reasons to support the idea of why people can argue against cohabitation from a biblical standpoint. Moreover, Warren’s essay is extremely weaked due to the fallacy of red herring. In his essay, a lot of time was spent arguing over the position that cohabiting with a partner is not a good form of a trail marriage, and hence a trial marriage is unnecessary. However, the main issue in this essay is should we be alarmed over the recent increase of cohabitation? Thus, any premises involved in Warren’s essay should intend to support this conclusion. The necessity of a trial marriage is irrelevant and does not intend to support the conclusion of this essay.

Warren commits a red herring by the deliberate raising of an irrelevant issue during an argument. After discussing the fallacies Warren used in his essay, I want to use four strategies to have a closed and detailed assessment of the “So Why Bother with Marriage?” part of his essay to espouse my conclusion that Warren’s essay is unbelievable.

First, the author states that those married couples who directly married without cohabitation have a lower divorce rate than those having cohabitation before marriage. Warren intends to prove that marriage provides stable relationship between a couple and cohabitation undermines such a relationship. The premises Warren used to support his claim are a result from one study and David and Barbara’s review. The problem here is based on the evidence Warren provided; it is difficult to conclude that marriage can hold people together and cohabitation may destroy such stable relationship between a couple. One reason is the sample size used in the study is too small compared to the millions of people who cohabit.

Hasty generalization makes this premise questionably lead to the conclusion. The other premise which is the review from David and Barbara is also not trustable because no detailed evidence is provided to support their opinion such as what kinds of research David and Barbara relied on and how these research they relied on are credible such as no hasty generalization is involved. Overall, Warren’s claim in this case is dubious because the conclusion is poorly supported.

In addition, Warren thinks marriage is good for children because married couples can provide a more stable living environment for their children than those who cohabit. Then Warren quotes the statistical data from several studies to support his claim. The issue in this case is we do not know whether the sample from these studies are representative or biased. Therefore, Warrem should provide detailed information about these studies to prove the result from these studies are reliable. Otherwise, he can not conclude that marriage provides the stability needed for children.

A believable claim is always based on good reasons. Moreover, the argument was made that cohabitation will not be as good as married relationships because the partner will not be “genuine and authentic” because of the thinking that “their partner may bolt at the first sign of trouble” (Warren 507). One could counterargue that having this security would make both partners spend more time remaining in the relationship due to the fact that they know their partner can leave much more easily. Thus, the argument that marriage can offer promised permanence is also not adequately supported.

Furthermore, the author argues that married people are “ emotionally, physically, financially, and vocationally” better off than unmarried partners (Warren 507). This claim is also lacking the reasonable support because the apparent studies are not listed ( saying the “ scores of studies” is vague ) and also readers are not informed in what way those statistics were collected ( For example, is the sample used in these studies large enough and representative? ). Without providing the detailed information about the studies the author relied on, it will make readers put a question mark to what the author has said.

Overall, after comprehensively and carefully analyzing Warren’s essay, I think it does not do a good job of logically convincing the readers that we should be alarmed over the current rise in cohabiting not only because different kinds of fallacies are contained in this essay, but also due to the failure of supporting marriage over cohabitation. Based on a critical thinking approach to convince readers, a strong argument analysis should always avoid having fallacies and provide good reasons to logically support the conclusion. By failing to achieve these tasks, Warren’s essay is not worth believing.

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