Analogical Reasoning as Translation:: The Pragmatics of Transivity

  • Jonathan Yovel


This paper attempts to examine the underlying structure of analogical reasoning in decision making. The immediate (but not exclusive) context is the form of reasoning commonly seen as prevalent in common-law judicial decision making. Following Wittgenstein and Strawson the paper identifies the problem of the contingency of transitivity ofanalogical relations as a serious impediment to analogical reasoning. It then proceeds to offer a method of translation that delineates the borders of contingency and analyticity of transitivity in such cases, as well as proposeshow these borders may be manipulated. The theoretical insight is to treat analogical relations anaphorically, as ``propredicates''.Accordingly, the translation involves constructive functional transformation from the form of meaning as continuum to the form of meaning as n-chotomies. Greimasian semiotics are then critically applied to examine in what sense ``translation'' – in this specific sense – can count as the ``deep structure'' of analogical/transitive reasoning, and what sucha claim entails in terms of linguistic ideology. Although the model of translation is formal it is not acontextual, and must be supplemented by importation of constitutive practicalconsiderations (i.e. norms) from concrete decision-making contexts. As such this is a case study of the pragmatic functions offormalization – a conception that may seem alien to some. When determining which states-of-affairs are deemed compatible, the formal model is shown to serve as a framework to what eventually becomes a pragmatic device.


Decision Making Formal Model Deep Structure Underlying Structure Analogical Reasoning 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Yovel
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of HaifaIsrael

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