Fallacies from Chapter 5 - 5469
Use of analogy where the cases are relevantly different
A is comparable to B
A is similar to B
like, compare, similar, comparable
How to Explain
Point out the relevant differences
If I were the president then I'd be like a mechanic who's under the hood, working on the engine
1. An analogy is a comparison between two things. We use analogies to explain or describe things because analogies try to give us a clear, clean image to tie into. Sometimes analogies help us to come up with new and interesting ideas.
2. The fallacy of questionable analogy is the use of an analogy where the cases are relevantly different. When reasoning by analogy, the fallacy occurs when the analogy is irrelevant or very weak.
3. You've probably heard the expression "You're comparing apples to oranges". This is slang meaning your analogy is questionable. The similarity between an apple and an orange is that they are both types of fruit. The relevant differences involve taste, texture, acidity, etc.
4. There are two types of analogies, namely, illustrative and demonstrative analogies. An illustrative analogy is given to merely stress one or more similar characteristics between two things. A demonstrative analogy involves an argument from analogy, that is, if two things have similar characteristics and one has an additional characteristic then the other probably has that characteristic also. We will discuss these in more detail in the presentaion on analogies.
5. Note that if an analogy compares living to non-living matter then it is always a questionable analogy because being alive vs. being dead is a very relevant difference.
7. Questionable Analogy on the Internet
1. Perot: "If I were the president then I'd be like a mechanic who's under the hood, working on the engine".
Analysis: Questionable analogy because of the relevant differences between a car and a country. The things that a mechanic tinkers with under a hood can be complicated, but not willful. They do not talk back or have interests, convictions, yearnings, or whims.
2. The book 'Investing for Dummies' really helped me understand my finances better. The book 'Chess for Dummies' was written by the same author, was published by the same press, and costs about the same amount, so it would probably help me understand finances as well.
Analysis: Comparing finances to chess is a questionable analogy because of their very relevant differences.
3. To deny there is a God is like standing on a building and denying there is a building.
Analysis: Questionable analogy because of the many relevant differences. Buildings are physical structures that are created by humans, can be observed, are subject to the laws of nature, and can be destroyed. None of these qualities apply to God.
4. We gave half the members of the hiking club Durell hiking boots and the other half good-quality tennis shoes. After three months of hiking, you can see for yourself that Durell lasted longer. You, too, should use Durell when you need hiking boots.
Analysis: Shouldn't Durell hiking boots be compared with other hiking boots, not with tennis shoes?
5. Martin: "Suppose you're wrong about Larry being smart."
Gloria: "You can suppose anything. Suppose this building falls down on my head."
Analysis: Questionable analogy because the two suppositions are not even close to being of similar probability.
7. People who drive SUVs have chosen the automotive equivalent of standing up in a theater to see better.
Analysis: I believe it's not a questionable analogy, but there are probably others who would disagree with me.
8. Welfare for the poor has destroyed the lives of millions of children. This is not a safety net. This is a system of child abuse. People on welfare are like thieves who pick our pockets.
Analysis: Questionable analogy because thieves who are pick pockets do so illegally and with deception, whereas welfare recipients are legally given payments out of compassion and humanitarian motives. I would also question whether welfare is a system of child abuse.
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Last updated: 15:23 on 30 January 2013
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