A Causal Approach to Analogy

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Pietsch, Wolfgang
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preprint description
Analogical reasoning addresses the question how evidence from various phenomena can be amalgamated and made relevant for theory development and prediction. In the first part of my contribution, I review some influential accounts of analogical reasoning, both historical and contemporary, focusing in particular on Keynes, Carnap, Hesse, and more recently Bartha. In the second part, I sketch a general framework. To this purpose, a distinction between a predictive and a conceptual type of analogical reasoning is introduced. I then take up a common intuition according to which (predictive) analogical inferences hold if the differences between source and target concern only irrelevant circumstances. I attempt to make this idea more precise by addressing possible objections and in particular by specifying a notion of causal irrelevance based on difference making in homogeneous contexts.