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Chapter Summary

Analogical reasoning is one of the most fundamental tools used in creating an argument. It can be analyzed as a type of inductive argument—it is a matter of probability, based on experience, and it can be quite persuasive. Analogical reasoning involves drawing an inference on the basis of similarities between two or more things. To draw an analogy is simply to indicate that there are similarities between two or more things.

An analogical argument is analyzed by revealing the general framework of the argument. The argument lists the characteristics that two (or more) things have in common and concludes that the things being compared probably have some other characteristic in common. If an analogical argument is strong, then it raises the probability that the conclusion is true.

There are three ways to show that an analogical argument is weak:

  1. If you can point to something that is a direct result of an analogy, but that is unacceptable to the person presenting the analogy, then you can put that person in a difficult position. An unintended consequence of an analogy is something that is a direct result of an analogy, but that is unacceptable to the person presenting the analogy.

  2. A disanalogy is another way in which an analogical inference can be weakened. When we point out differences between two or more things, we create a disanalogy.

  3. When we create a counteranalogy, which is a new, competing argument comparing the thing in question to something else, we cast some doubt on the strength of the original analogical argument.

Four criteria are used to analyze the first premise of an analogical argument:

  1. The strength of an analogical argument is related to the number of things referred to in the first premise.

  2. The strength of an analogical argument is related to the variety of things referred to in the first premise.

  3. The strength of an analogical argument is related to the number of characteristics that are claimed to be similar between the things being compared.

  4. The strength of an analogical argument is related to the relevance of the characteristics referred to in the first premise.


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