Are Universal Criteria of Analogical Reasoning Hopeless? - Ioannis Votsis
Ioannis Votsis (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, London School of Economics)

December 5, 2023, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

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Are Universal Criteria of Analogical Reasoning Hopeless? - Ioannis Votsis

The Center for Philosophy of Science invites you to our Featured Former Fellow Lecture presented by:   

Ioannis Votsis

November 14 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST

Title: Are Universal Criteria of Analogical Reasoning Hopeless?

Abstract: One of the most common forms of reasoning in science is reasoning by analogy. Roughly speaking, such reasoning involves the transposition of solutions that work well in one domain to another, on the basis of analogous properties between the two domains. Sometimes such reasoning works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Models of analogical reasoning attempt to circumscribe the conditions under which good analogical inferences can be made and bad ones avoided. Two general approaches to modelling can be identified. There are those who attempt to come up with universal criteria of analogical reasoning. And there are those who argue in favour of localised criteria. In this talk, I assess the merits and demerits of both approaches. I concede that there are substantial obstacles standing in the way of universal criteria. Even so, one such criterion is put forth and a corresponding challenge due to Wittgenstein examined. I conclude by arguing that this challenge can be met and thus that there is hope for universal criteria in the study of analogical reasoning.

This talk will also be available live streamed on YouTube at

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Catching up with Ioannis

Where are you now?

Northeastern University London

What are you working on?

Besides analogical reasoning, a neuro-symbolic approach to the logic of scientific discovery and some experimental work on how to teach conditional reasoning skills.

Favorite memory of The Center.

Every few weeks each fellow hosted a home-made meal at their place of residence. That was a fantastic way to socialise and strike up collaborations.

Greatest non-professional achievement since leaving the Center (can be anything from running a marathon to organizing your sock drawer!).

Hard to say as my life has been rather professionally oriented… As a union rep, I made substantial contributions in negotiating better pay conditions for all academics at my home institution.

Best book/movie/tv you’ve seen lately.

Oppenheimer (movie)

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