A Pursuit Worthiness Account of Analogies in Science

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Nyrup, Rune
conference paper description
Analogies often provide reasons for pursuing hypotheses or models. This is illustrated with a case study on the liquid drop model of the atomic nucleus. I criticise accounts in which analogies provide reasons for pursuit through epistemic support, proposing instead that analogies increase the value of learning the truth. I consider two accounts of this type: first, that analogies indicate potentials for theoretical unification; second, that analogies facilitate the transfer of already well-understood modelling frameworks to new domains. While the first is plausible for some cases, only the second can account for the liquid drop case study.