This page is to help you understand the concept of Argument by Analogy in more detail.

There are a number of links already in Tools of the Trade and the Argument Analysis pages.


This link is a good introduction to the idea of Argument by Analogy.


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THEN, you can......

Look at this page for a simple but effective list of criteria for evaluating Arguments by Analogy


Another page to help you understand the concept. logo- clear thinking.jpg

Follow this link to get a very detailed and complex analysis of using and evaluating Arguments by Analogy.


Argument By Analogy support


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In what ways are these images examples of analogous pictures? Are their implied 'arguments' in each of the pictures and if so, what might they be? How would you evaluate them?

Who do you think would use these arguments and why?


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Read and evaluate the following Arguments by analogy used to support belief in an Intelligent Designer.Watch.jpg

Paley's watchmaker

This is the watchmaker argument, one of the earliest formal expressions of the argument from design.
William Paley in Natural Theology c.1802:
"In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there."

William Paley in Natural Theology (Ch. XXIII, Pg. 441):
"Upon the whole; after all the schemes and struggles of a reluctant philosophy, the necessary resort is to a Deity. The marks of design are too strong to be gotten over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD.]"

Ray Comfort's divine painter

This version of the argument is commonly presented by apologist Ray Comfort or his many followers:[2]
"First, I would say that I can prove that anyone who looks at a building and says that he doesn't believe that there was a builder, is a fool. This is because a building is absolute proof that there was a builder. Buildings don't build themselves, from nothing. Only a fool would believe that."
"Second, I would say that anyone who looks at a painting and believes that there was no painter, is a fool. The painting is absolute proof that there as [sic] a painter. Paintings don't paint themselves, from nothing. Only a fool would believe that."
"Then I would say that creation is absolute 100% scientific proof that there is a Creator. A creation cannot create itself, from nothing. But that's what the atheist believes--that nothing created everything from nothing. That's a scientific impossibility, and only a fool would believe that."

Syllogism

p1. We appear to observe features in nature too complex to have happened by chance
p2. These features exhibit the hallmark appearance of design
p3. Design implies that there must be a designer
c1. Therefore nature must be the result of an intelligent designer
c2. This designer is God


Here is an example of two arguments by analogy. Evaluate each, commenting on their strength or otherwise.


Carli. Drug use is a matter of addiction and behavior control. It's like overeating or gambling. It would be ridiculous to declare war on overeating, so it's ridiculous to declare war on drugs.
Syed. The war on drugs is like any war. We will not begin to win until we begin to shoot drug dealers on sight.

Carli. 1. Drug use is a matter of addiction and behavior control.
2. Drug use is like overeating or gambling.
3. It would be ridiculous to declare war on overeating.
C. It's ridiculous to declare war on drugs.

Syed. 1. The war on drugs is like any war.
(2. Wars are only won by shooting people.)
C. We will only win the war on drugs if we shoot drug dealers on sight.


Here is a sample evaluation of these statements.



Carli. Analogy Argument Syed. Analogy Argument

Analog: dealing with the drug problem Conclusion Thingy: dealing with the drug problem (the "drug war")

Premise Thingy: dealing with overeating Premise Thingy: an actual war

Property: should not be prosecuted with unlimited violence. Property: should be prosecuted with unlimited violence.



Carli. Analogy between overeating and taking illegal drugs.

Important similarities: as Carli says, both are matters of addiction and behavior control. Neither intrinsically involves shooting at other people.

Important differences: overeating is always unhealthy, but illegal drug use is not always unhealthy in itself. 35 percent of the American people are obese, but only 6 percent of Americans even use illegal drugs.



Syed. Analogy between making war on America and taking illegal drugs.

Important similarities: none that I can see.

Important differences: people making war on America actively try to destroy American lives and property. People who take drugs don't necessarily destroy anything.



Carli gives a reasonable argument, given the clear similarities between overeating and drug use. Syed seems to think that use of the slogan "war on drugs" means that there is an actual war going on. The problem with this is that it's not clear whether the war on drugs is a real war or a war in name only. After all, we had a "war on poverty," and that didn't require us to shoot anybody. So this argument at least begs the question of whether the drug war is a case of us being attacked by enemies who intend to conquer or dominate us, and who cannot be handled by the normal operations of the police forces. In a real war, we generally encounter the enemy in the form of soldiers who shoot at us or at least try to force us to work for them or give them our stuff. Generally, we have to shoot these guys in order to get them to stop. In the drug war, we generally encounter the "enemy" in the form of people who try to sell us things, or give us things in the hope that we will become hooked and have to buy them later. So if this analogy is good, I will not be able to avoid Jehovah's Witnesses until I start shooting them. Certainly, there are no similarities between the drug war and a real war. Furthermore, the fact that American soldiers shoot people during a real war doesn't mean that such shooting is justified! Syed actually commits three fallacies here. He equivocates on the word "war," he begs the question of whether the shooting in an actual war is justified, and he draws a false analogy between the war on drugs and a real war.