Reasoning by grounded analogy

Synthese 199 (3-4):5419-5453 (2021)
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Analogical reasoning projects a property taken to hold of something or things (the source) to something else (the target) on the basis of just those similarities premised in the analogy. Standard similarity-based accounts of analogical reasoning face the question: Under what conditions does a collection of similarities sufficiently warrant analogical projection? One answer is: When a thing’s having the premised similarities somehow determines its having the projected property. Standardly, this answer has been interpreted as claiming that a formally defined determination relation exists between the variables of which the determining properties are values and the variable of which the determined property is a value. This paper supplies another answer: Analogical projection is warranted when an item’s having the projected property is grounded in its having the premised similarities. Drawing on the metaphysics of grounding, we propose a model of grounded analogy on which analogical reasoning is valid under metaphysical necessity. Our model thus provides one answer to John Stuart Mill’s question of how analogical reasoning based on limited information about a single source case can provide an indefeasible justification for analogical projection. Once a relation of total grounding is ascertained to hold between some similarities and the projected property, no other properties bear on the projectability of the projected property from the source to the target.



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John R. T. Grey
Michigan State University
David Godden
Michigan State University

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On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In Ryan Wasserman, David Manley & David Chalmers (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: metaphysics, logic, and epistemology. qnew York: Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
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The question of realism.Kit Fine - 2001 - Philosophers' Imprint 1:1-30.

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