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in biology, the similarities in function, but differences in evolutionary origin, of body structures in different organisms. For example, the wing of a bird is analogous to the wing of an insect, since both are used for flight. However, there is no common ancestral origin in the evolution of these structures: While the wings of birds are modified skeletal forelimbs, insect wings are extensions of the body wall. Although insects and birds do have a very remote common ancestry (more than 600 million years ago), the wings of the two groups evolved after their ancestries had separated. See also homologyhomology
, in biology, the correspondence between structures of different species that is attributable to their evolutionary descent from a common ancestor. For example, the forelimbs of vertebrates, such as the wing of bird or bat, and the foreleg of an amphibian, are
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a comparison made to show a degree of similarity, but not an exact identity, between phenomena. In sociology, analogies are often made between social phenomena and mechanical or organic phenomena. This can be seen in classical forms of sociological functionalism in which societies are often seen as ‘machine-like’ or, more usually, ‘organism-like’ entities whose parts interrelate and reinforce each other. Although sometimes useful, and perhaps even indispensable in any science, recourse to analogies is often suspect. Assumptions made or relationships imputed (e.g. ‘social needs’ analogous with ‘animal needs’) require separate justification. The use of analogies therefore always involves risks. See MODEL.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a similarity in some respects between objects, phenomena, processes, and so forth. In conclusions drawn by analogy, knowledge gained from the examination of a certain object, known as “the model” is transferred to another object which is less well studied in certain aspects—less accessible to experiment, less discernible, and so forth. In relation to concrete objects, conclusions drawn by analogy are, generally speaking, only probabilistic; they are one of the sources of scientific hypotheses and inductive reasoning and play an important role in scientific discoveries. If, on the other hand, the inferences drawn by analogy relate to abstract objects, then under certain conditions (in particular, with the establishment of isomorphic or homomorphic relations between them) they are capable of yielding determinate conclusions.


Aristotle. Analitiki pervaia i vtoraia. Moscow, 1952.
Asmus, V. F. Logika. Moscow, 1947.
Mill, J. S. Sistema logiki sillogicheskoi i induktivnoi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1914. (Translated from English.)
Polya, G. Matematika i pravdopodobnye rassuzhdeniia. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from English.)
Uemov, A. I. “Osnovnye formy i pravila vyvodov po analogii.” In Problemy logiki nauchnogo Poznaniia. Moscow, 1964.
Venikov, V. A. Teoriia podobiia i modelirovanie primeniteVno k zadacham elektroenergetiki. Moscow, 1966.
Corafas, D. N. Sistemy imoderlirovanie. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Biology the relationship between analogous organs or parts
2. Logic maths a form of reasoning in which a similarity between two or more things is inferred from a known similarity between them in other respects
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
When stare decisis is weakened even slightly, Professor Sunstein's incompletely theorized agreements face a profound barrier because analogical reasoning would require both a consensus on whether a given precedent is analogous and whether the precedent should be given stare decisis effect at all.
Analogical reasoning is also vulnerable to the limits of human cognition.
Analogical reasoning facilitates the paradigm shift.
Most importantly, if I am correct about the limited range of justifiable methodologies in law, then analogical reasoning has absolutely no role to play in common law decisionmaking based on precedent cases, or in common law decisionmaking that treats statutes or constitutional provisions like precedent cases.
One can now begin to visualize a control model of organizations being developed out of a process of analogical reasoning in which knowledge about the human nervous system is the source domain.
In the previous section we saw that by appealing to a principle of analogical reasoning an agency approach may extend its scope well beyond the domain of those things in a particular world that the agents of that world can actually influence.
The majority of experimental studies concerned with this behavior analytic approach to analogical reasoning have used complex or multielement conditional discriminations to train arbitrary stimulus relations and test the derived relational behavior.
First, he points out that during the time he spent studying in Baghdad, "al-Shafi'i encountered two contrary but immensely important trends in the legal thought of the late second/eighth centuries: the pietistic commitment to Prophetic hadith-reports as the primary evidence for Prophetic Practice and thus as the primary guide to personal religious practice, and the attempt to make the law rationally consistent by testing the interrelationship of rules by means of analogical reasoning and dialectics" (p.
Analogical reasoning also plays a prominent role in the field of scientific studies (Hofstadter, 2003).
In cases where context, relational understanding and the use of analogies have been studied, the involvement students have in the analogical reasoning processes have been limited (Richland, Holyoak & Stigler, 2004).
It may therefore be safe to state that Ibn Taymiyyah relied on ijtihad and qiyas (analogical reasoning), which his followers pursued as the ideal methods, even if much of the progress recorded in recent years were habitually overlooked.
Gentner's study of analogical reasoning and learning is based on her theory of structure mapping.