Saturday, January 29, 2005

Confusing Analogy and Identity

Jim Berkley lays hold of something very important. People constantly confuse analogy and identity. "If you allow two men from marrying, what in your logic, would prevent two or more of anything from marrying?" "So you're saying you are saying homosexual relationships are the same as this other thing?" No! I'm just saying your logic isn't good. And if you don't understand arguments by analogy, it is going to be hard to argue (in the nice sense) an issue with someone.
But let's say I claim: "You know, using the logic you've just given me, if that 'proves' for you that homosexual practice can be okay for some people, you would also have to logically concede that incest could also be okay for some people." That statement is using a logical analogy: If it's "true" for instance X, by analogy it must also be "true" for instance Y, which is analogous.

I can tell you the response to this that I get at least half the time: "How dare you say that gay people practice incest!"

The problem is that the responder has confused analogy with identity. Homosexual practice isn't identical to incest. No one has even intimated that it is, or that homosexuals practice incest. But if the criteria used for moral propriety is only two committed people who love each other, then the reason for approving incest would be analogous to the reason for approving homosexual practice.

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