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System Metaphor and Analogic reasoning (an aside)

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  • Arrizza, John
    I have been reading a book on legal reasoning (by Edward Levi) and came across an interesting idea (attributed to Aristotle by Levi). There is a common form of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2000
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      I have been reading a book on legal reasoning (by Edward Levi) and came
      across an interesting idea (attributed to Aristotle by Levi). There is a
      common form of reasoning used by people in the legal profession where two
      situations are compared as analogies of each other. Using the results of the
      first situation, "conclusions" can be drawn about the second. e.g. case A is
      just like case B because of the parallels x, y, z between the two cases and
      since case A was decided for the defendant, case B should be as well. The
      other side, of course, claims the x y z are not present or not the key facts
      of case A but in fact r s and t are and so case A is just like case C which
      was decided for the plaintiff... and then the judge judges which is more
      applicable.

      It seems to me that this is the same mechanism that underlies the System
      Metaphor. The SM is a simple description of a system that has analogies to
      the system under construction. The developers are to use the SM to draw
      "conclusions" about how to develop the current system by drawing analogies
      to the system mentioned in the metaphor.

      This kind of reasoning is relatively easy to do as compared to other more
      formal logics since it is just a side by side comparison of two preexisting
      systems not a creation of a system out of thin air. e.g. if someone knows
      what a crow is then it is easier to compare the similarities and differences
      between a crow and a raven then it is to decribe a raven in detail and hope
      they "get it."

      Its simplicity makes it effective in communicating a large amount of
      information concerning the current system. The trap is that it is inaccurate
      or ambiguous compared to formal analysis. e.g. "a raven has a longer beak"
      causes the listener to imagine Jimmy Durante with wings. However the
      ambiguity affords the developers leeway in applying the metaphor more
      appropriately to the current system. This is the same ambiguity used by
      judges to keep judgements topical.

      Anyway, it struck me as an interesting thought.

      John
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