Two Ways of Analogy: Extending the Study of Analogies to Mathematical Domains

Philosophy of Science 75 (2):178-200 (2008)
The structure-mapping theory has become the de-facto standard account of analogies in cognitive science and philosophy of science. In this paper I propose a distinction between two kinds of domains and I show how the account of analogies based on structure-preserving mappings fails in certain (object-rich) domains, which are very common in mathematics, and how the axiomatic approach to analogies, which is based on a common linguistic description of the analogs in terms of laws or axioms, can be used successfully to explicate analogies of this kind. Thus, the two accounts of analogies should be regarded as complementary, since each of them is adequate for explicating analogies that are drawn between different kinds of domains. In addition, I illustrate how the account of analogies based on axioms has also considerable practical advantages, e. g., for the discovery of new analogies.
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DOI 10.1086/590198
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