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Critical Thinking & COVID-19 XIII: Death Analogies

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One stock argument against social distancing and other restricted responses to the pandemic is to conclude that these measures should not be taken because we do not take similar approaches to comparable causes of death. Put a bit more formally, the general argument is: Premise 1: Another cause of death kills as many (or more) people than COVID-19 Premise 2: We do not impose social distancing and other such restrictive measures to address this cause of death. Conclusion: We should not impose social distancing and other such restrictive measures to address COVID-19. Those making the argument often use the flu as an analogous cause of death, but people have also made comparisons to automobile accidents, suicides, heart disease, drowning in pools and so on. While the specific arguments are presented in various ways, they are all what philosophers call an argument from analogy. Informally speaking, an argument by analogy is an argument in which it is concluded that because two things are alike in certain ways, they are alike in some other way. More formally, the argument looks like this: Premise 1: X and Y have properties P, Q, R. Premise 2: X has property Z. Conclusion: Y has property Z.   X and Y are variables that stand for whatever is being compared, such as causes of death. P, Q, R, and are also variables, but they stand for properties or features that X and Y are known to possess, such as killing people. Z is also a variable and it stands for the property or feature that X is known to possess, such as not being addressed with social distancing. The use of P, Q, and R is just for the sake of the illustration—the things being compared might have many more properties in common. An argument by analogy is an inductive argument. This means that it is supposed to be such that if all the premises are true, then the conclusion is probably true. Like other inductive arguments, the argument by analogy is assessed by applying standards to determine the quality of the. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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