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Analogical Reasoning

 

Disciplines Argument > Types of reasoning > Analogical Reasoning

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

A is like B. M is in A. N is in B. So M is like N.

In analogical reasoning, an analogy for a given thing or situation is found, where the analogy is like the given thing in some way. Other attributes of the analogical situation are then taken to also represent other attributes of the given thing.

To use an analogy:

  • Start with a target domain where you want to create new understanding.
  • Find a general matching domain where some things are similar to the target domain.
  • Find specific items from the matching domain.
  • Find related items in the target domain.
  • Transfer attributes from the matching domain to the target domain.

Example

This company is like a racehorse. It's run fast and won the race, and now it needs feed and rest for a while.

Today is like a day in paradise. We don't need an umbrella.

Dating is like flying. At some point, your feet are going to leave the ground.

Discussion

Our brains work by patterns and association -- if a perception fits roughly into an existing pattern, then the existing pattern may be taken as definitive. For example, we see a half-hidden person and 'recognize' them as someone we know.

We also use similarity in our thinking, where even distant fields may be used to help understand a given concept or situation. Although this can lead to fallacious associations, it can also be very helpful in extending understanding.

See also

Metaphor, Analogy

 

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