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Comparative Reasoning

 

Disciplines Argument > Types of reasoning > Comparative Reasoning

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Comparative reasoning establishes the importance of something by comparing it against something else.

The size of the gap between the things compared indicates importance. Compare against a high standard to make something look undesirable. Compare it against a weak example to make it look good.

To create a logical argument, first establish the validity of the comparison benchmark. For less logic, the benchmark may be assumed.

There are many ways to compare, for example:

  • Compare what people have got (or not got) against what others have.
  • Compare the past with the future.
  • Compare what is actual with what is ideal.
  • Compare words and actions against values.

Example

 

Say this Not this
You're now better than John, but you've yet to overtake Jane. You're not good enough.
Think about doubling your income. What would that be like? You could be earning more.
She says she likes animals, but look at how she is treating Bonzo. She is not nice to her dog.

 

Discussion

Comparison is a very natural form of judgement as we find it difficult to evaluate something on a stand-alone basis. We want to know if it is better or worse -- but better or worse than what? For persuasion, if you can establish the benchmark against which better and worse is judged, then the rest, as they say, is history.

Not only is there a common assumption that the given benchmark item is the right thing to compare against, but the assessment of how much better or worse things are is also assumed to depend on the size of the gap between the item being compared and the benchmark. Several sequential requests make use of this principle, setting a benchmark and then using the contrast of the ensuing gap to prompt desired action.

See also

Assumption principle, Criteria reasoning,

 

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