Debate: Analogies in political discussion can be tricky

The use of analogies in political debate has recently sparked questions over recent weeks around what is appropriate when making comparisons to drive an argument on issues of state capture, colonialism, apartheid to name a few.

Jacques Rousseau, lecturer in critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town explains how it is often ineffective and what one should guard against.

Use the analogy more as a thought experiment rather than a rebuttal.

Jacques Rousseau, UCT lecturer of critical thinking and ethics

What you must start by doing is establish a kind of relationship of mutual respect and trust in an argument so when you do land that challenging idea they are not inclined to view you as an enemy or somebody who is trying to undermine them.

Jacques Rousseau, UCT lecturer of critical thinking and ethics

But are some analogies taboo?

He comments on the problematic use of rape as an analogy as seen in a recent Zapiro cartoon about Zuma and State capture.

There is no question that rape is brutal, degrading and traumatic and so forth, but Sean [caller] does raise an interesting question here around our principles and around our consistency because we don't in general disallow reactions to things that depict other brutal and traumatic events.

Jacques Rousseau, UCT lecturer of critical thinking and ethics

This idea that rape is uniquely different to all of those other things does need to be challenged, as difficult as that may be.

Jacques Rousseau, UCT lecturer of critical thinking and ethics

Click below to listen to the full debate...


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Debate: Analogies in political discussion can be tricky


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