Complete Story

LITTLE, Joseph

Winter 2000, pages 69-92

Analogy in Science: Where Do We Go From Here?

Abstract: Rhetoric of science has come a long way in understanding the role of analogy in scientific language and thought. Further progress is hindered, however, by the analytic and methodological limitations native to classical rhetoric. Accordingly, I turn to cognitive psychology for an adequate theory of analogy through which to remedy this stalled research program. Using Dedre Gentner's Structure Mapping theory of analogy, I investigate the role of the Saturnian analogy in Hantaro Nagaoka's theory of atomic structure and show how the analogy constrained him, serving sometimes as an asset to his argument and other times as a serious liability.