E.D backpedals, and then doesn't:


So let me just first say that yes - I agree it is not a very good analogy. It is a bad analogy, full of holes designed to inflame more than enlighten. To my knowledge, I have never used the analogy myself. 

But. I can still see how someone who vehemently believes that an unborn baby is still a person could stumble into it. I can see this and I can believe in the sincerity of this belief (if not the sincerity of those who then use it to win political battles). This is the entirety of my argument.

In defense, he cites one of his commenters:

An analogy, any analogy, is not meant to be a perfect equivalence. There are parts of slavery which are analogous to abortion: should we accord certain rights to every human organism, or are there other considerations which justify withholding certain rights from certain classes of human organisms.

That is a question which is common to both slavery and abortion. It does not mean that the particular classes of human organism being dicussed are equivalent to each other. The only crude similarity is that slaves in pre-civil war America and unborn human organsims today are each less powerful than what their respective society's regarded and regard as full citizens.
For Kain, it is enough that there is any degree of congruence. Never mind that the objects he compares are more dislike than alike. Disregard that the analogy serves more to obscure than reveal. Any two things can be compared so long as they share some aspect in common. It reminds me of Neitzsche's lament that historical comparisons require that "the individuality of the past be wrenched into a general shape, with all its sharp corners and angles broken off for the sake of the correspondence." 

The proper question to pose to E.D. Kain is not whether, if he tries hard enough, he can find some way in which slavery is a little bit like abortion. Of course he can. It is whether, on balance, this analogy is accurate. Whether it brings something new to the debate, by illuminating some aspect which had hitherto escaped out notice. Or whether the analogy requires breaking off so many corners and angles that the objects being compared lose their distinctive shapes.

I am sure that, in some ways, the Holocaust is like the Middle Passage. I am also sure that, in some ways, the Holocaust and the Middle Passage are like pet euthanasia. I'm also sure that all three are somehow like a steak dinner. And so on. If your mission is to make yourself right, there are an abundance of pathways. 

But if you're mission is to clarify your own thinking, and understand the experiences of other people, then you tend to shy away from defending analogies which, by your own lights, are "full of holes and designed to inflame more than enlight."  Sometimes, you go so far down into a hole, and you forget why, and how, you got there. 

Guess it's best to keep digging.

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