Title: Analogy and Reflective Reasoning

Abstract: Analogy is a form of argumentation within philosophy that is often criticised as weak or even fallacious.  At the same time, it continues to be widely used in contemporary philosophical argumentation, including playing a key role in the way that thought experiments operate. By examining a particularly Wittgensteinian use and style of analogy, I propose to test the claim that we can rely more comfortably on the use of analogical reasoning – outside of argumentation – as an important element of philosophical reasoning, eluding charges of fallacious argumentation. By using analogy to expose hidden and problematic assumptions that stand behind our reasoning, Wittgenstein claimed that analogy can be a powerful tool for the exploration of seemingly intractable philosophical problems, such as the nature of thought and language. Many Wittgensteinians have similarly claimed an important role for this element of Wittgensteinian method. But only by first closely examining the features of Wittgensteinian analogy in practice, and then attempting to analogise as Wittgenstein did by extending his use to a different content area, I argue, we will be able to properly test his claim that analogical cases provide insight into some of the most problematic concepts in philosophical history.

Presenter: Joel Glazebrook, HDR candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry