that old GNU/Linux argument

Marko Vojinovic vvmarko at
Sat Jul 26 19:50:56 UTC 2008

On Saturday 26 July 2008 01:26, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Jul 24, 2008, Marko Vojinovic <vvmarko at> wrote:
> > Persons A and B are running a marathon on the Olympic games.
> You're quite creative at presenting analogies that sound convincing to
> support a point you're trying to make, and that hide all of their
> flaws in the careful manipulation of the mapping so that they end up
> supporting your point of view.  One thing you need to learn (or maybe
> you do, and you hope people won't challenge the mapping) is that this
> doesn't make for convincing arguments.

I use analogies in order to make a distinction between the idea that I want to 
communicate and the detailed description of the topic that interferes and 
clouds the bare-bone idea. If one is presented with an argument in some 
setting, one usually has trouble differentiating between the argument and the 
setting. If one is given an argument in two different settings (and this 
argument is the same for both), one can make a distinction between the 
argument and each of the settings much easier, thus isolating and 
concentrating on the argument, rather than the setting. This is in general a 
purpose of an analogy, as I understand it (and use it).

Of course, every analogy has limits, because the two settings are different, 
and if one pushes the analogy too far beyond the argument itself (and into 
the settings), these differences begin to show up, eventually rendering the 
analogy false. But that is only if one pushes it further than intended.

So yes, you are completely right, I am intentionally manipulating the mapping 
of an analogy in order to emphasize the point. The analogy itself serves the 
sole purpose of illustrating and emphasizing, not as a proof of the point 
being discussed.

That said, I do agree that this marathon analogy was a little rough on the 
edges. :-)

Best, :-)

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