In CSLI Informal Notes Series. Stanford, CA, USA: Center for the Study of Language and Information, No. IN-CSLI-85-4, (1985)
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This essay (a revised version of my undergraduate honors thesis at Stanford) constructs a theory of analogy as it applies to argumentation and reasoning, especially as used in fields such as philosophy and law. The word analogy has been used in different senses, which the essay defines. The theory developed herein applies to analogia rationis, or analogical reasoning. Building on the framework of situation theory, a type of logical relation called determination is defined. This determination relation solves a puzzle about analogy in the context of logical argument, namely, whether an analogous situation contributes anything logically over and above what could be inferred from the application of prior knowledge to a present situation. Scholars of reasoning have often claimed that analogical arguments are never logically valid, and that they therefore lack cogency. However, when the right type of determination structure exists, it is possible to prove that projecting a conclusion inferred by analogy onto the situation about which one is reasoning is both valid and non-redundant. Various other properties and consequences of the determination relation are also proven. Some analogical arguments are based on principles such as similarity, which are not logically valid. The theory therefore provides us with a way to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate arguments. It also provides an alternative to procedures based on the assessment of similarity for constructing analogies in artificial intelligence systems.
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