on analogies

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on analogies

Postby TerraFrost » Sun May 29, 2005 8:54 am

After having given them some thought, I think analogies are something that should never be used in debates. If you make one, others are liable to observe how it doesn't fully represent the situation. Unfortunately, analogies, by definition, will never fully represent the situation. If they fully represented the situation, it, in all likelyhood, wouldn't be an analogy (rather, it'd be the actual situation).

The reason I don't think that they should be allowed is that if people are discussing the applicability of an analogy, they're not discussing that which inspired the analogy, and by virtue of that, they've kinda gone off topic.

So what's, really, the point?

Also, on a side note, analogies to Nazi germany make me wonder a few things...

1. Why are people offended by them?
2. Why are these analogies so common? This isn't something that's confined to one end of the political spectrum, either. Senator Santorum - a conservative - said US Democrats were acting as Hitler when performing a fillabuster (ref). Similarily, liberal opponents of Bush created commercials comparing Bush to Hiterl during moveon.org's campaign (ref). (I don't think these are ideal examples, but blah).

Anyway, I think one reason for (2) is that they're just easier to come up with. Any ideas as to why that might be. My guess would be just that everything Nazi Germany did has become infamous.
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Postby Gigafrost » Mon May 30, 2005 4:25 am

Not using analogies in arguments is a lot like not arguing in two different languages in that you lose the common bridges that could unify your understanding.

Oh wait. We're not talking about languages, but arguments. Ummm...

Not using analogies in arguments is a lot like not using analogies in arguments.
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Postby TerraFrost » Mon May 30, 2005 8:10 pm

Hmmm, heh.

Anyway, after discussing it with Giga... I think analogies can, in some cases, be useful, but... in those same cases, they can also be harmful. The thing is - I think it's just hard to predict what images analogies will conjour up. Given this inherent unpredictability, it still seems prudent to avoid analogies when possible.
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