November 12, 2004

Causal Arguments by Analogy or Precedent

Here are the examples from class today:

A sound analogy (at least I think so):

Writing is like basketball.

The more essays you write, the more effective, persuasive ones you'll write, just as the more hoops you shoot, the more times you'll get the ball in the basket.

The underlying cause/effect claim being made here is: The time and energy you devote to a given endeavor causes you to become better and more successful at it (also possibly a law-of-averages claim). PLEASE NOTE: I think this is a sound analogy, based primarily on my experience as a writer and as a teacher of writing. Not everyone agrees, though. Some people might argue that writing is a natural talent that one is either born with or not and call my analogy a false analogy, making the counter-analogy that good writing is like eye color: Writing talent is a natural attribute just as having green eyes is a natural attribute. Fair enough...but I happen to think that particular analogy is poppycock.

Now for what canoeguy808 would argue is a false analogy:

The job market is like a field of lilies.

If you go into the field and pick 100 lilies, then cart them over to a field five miles away, you reduce the number of lilies in that field, just as if you pick 100 IT jobs and outsource them to India, there will be fewer jobs in that market.

HOWEVER, Canoeguy808 is arguing that the job market is not like a field of lilies, that the analogy is false and outsourcing some jobs can, in fact, create even more jobs (so you end up with a net job gain). (He'll also, of course, be providing evidence to support this claim, and maybe a counter-analogy? Canoeguy808, what would be a more appropriate analogy for what the job market is like and what outsourcing's effect on the market is?)

Posted by atNovember 12, 2004 3:57 PM