Document Type

Book Review

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Philosophical Review 2012 Volume 121, Number 3: 457-460

Abstract

To the extent that the worth of scientific or philosophical efforts can be assessed by the number of productive research avenues they open up, this is definitely an important book. It deserves careful consideration by scientists, mathematicians, psychologists, and philosophers. Since it does not fit neatly into any usual category but rather stands athwart many research areas, its reception may depend on precisely who attends to its bold claims. This book aims to answer two questions: “What criteria should we use to evaluate analogical arguments used in science?” and “How can we provide a philosophical justification for those criteria?” Paul Bartha recognizes that analogies are widely used in all areas of human action—but claims: “We have no substantive normative theory of analogical arguments”. He persuasively argues that none of the theoretical approaches to analogical argumentation that previously have been developed is generally applicable. But he holds that the uses of analogies in science and mathematics are “key or ‘leading’ special cases that provide an excellent basis for a general normative theory” of analogical reasoning. This book proposes a systematic theoretical treatment, and a set of evaluation criteria, that (Bartha claims) apply to all varieties of analogical reasoning—both in science and elsewhere. This assertion is not modest, but careful arguments support it well. The claim seems quite plausible.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2012

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