Rhetoric & Homiletics: ACB – An Example Of Making The Argument By Analogy

ACBarrett

The usefulness of analogy is at least two-fold: Clarity & Argument.

An analogy goes from the known to the unknown and therefore gives clarity.  An analogical illustration, at its core, seeks to provide clarity to the point being made.

Another use of analogy is to make the argument. Nevertheless, even while making the argument, at its core, it still gives clarity. But it is purposefully designed to make an argument.  It is also different in that it is not going from “the known to the unknown,” as much as it is going from “the known to the known”.

My aim is not to argue for or against the nomination and consent of a Supreme Court Justice in an election year.  The argument for or against has been made by many on both sides of the aisle.  The following is an example of making the argument through the use of analogy.

Known To The Known:

The first known, in this case, is a political process — (“political” in a good sense, if such is possible these days) . . . .

  • The nomination of a Supreme Court Justice by the duly elected and sitting President of the United States.
  • The advice and consent of the duly elected and sitting Senate.
  • A simple majority vote of the duly elected and sitting Senate.

Suppose these three elements are “known” and understood. In that case, none of these elements need to be stated before making the actual analogical argument, or only selected elements need to be stated.

If a speaker is uncertain as to whether these elements are known, he may include some or all of the above three elements / points. For example, the audience may not know or understand the political process of nominations, consent, and simple majority voting.

If a speaker is uncertain as to whether the audience will link up the comparative-elements of the analogy, he may include all or some of the above three points. For example, when the analogical argument is made, they may not connect the analogical elements in the analogy with the political process’s three elements.

Here is our example of analogy — NOT for clarity, but for making the argument. [1]

“The football team, on the other side, does not get to tell the football team who has possession of the ball that they can’t score a touchdown.”

√  “Football Team” on the other side = Senate Democrats

√  “Football Team” who has possession of the ball = Senate Republicans & President

√  “Score A Touchdown” = Nominate & pass it by a simple majority vote

///////

Short Form: “The football team on the other side does not get to tell the football team who has possession of the ball, that they can’t score a touchdown.”

///////

Long Form: Developed further and including more information

Just as in football, when a team has possession of the ball, they have the right to carry the ball down the field or throw passes to complete a touchdown. The rules do not allow the opposing team to tell them that even though they may be in possession of the ball, they are only allowed to carry and pass the ball in the field of play; they are not allowed to complete a touchdown.

Likewise, the President of the United States and the Senate has the ball in their possession. The rules allow the President to nominate, and his team has the right to consider and vote on that nominee. The opposing party has no right to tell the party-team in power that they cannot score.

///////

Longer Form: Including more comparative-elements and information

Likewise, the United States President is the duly elected quarterback of the Republican party and has the constitutional right to put the ball into play. His team, the duly elected Republican members of the Senate has the ball in their possession. The President has handed off the ball to the Senate. They are there, constitutionally, to move the ball down the field and try to score a touchdown. The rules do not allow for the opposing party to tell the President and/or Senate, the quarterback and/or his offense, that even though they have possession of the ball, they are not allowed to score.

FYI:  Rachel Maddow of MSNBC made this analogy concerning the seating of Associate Justice Barrett . . . .

When you push the pendulum that far to the right,
it comes back faster and harder.

Run With It!



1. Greg Gutfield on “The Five” by Fox

2.  Is this an analogy of clarity, or argument?  I would come down on the side of clarity.  It visualize the point, rather than argues the point.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
— Matthew 7:3-5 —
3.  The metaphor is generally designed to call up a simple passing mental image . . . .

  • “Employers need to stop treating people like disposable cogs, the objective of which is to bleed all you can from them.”
  • “He is the Tiger Woods of his golf team.”

However, when it comes to making an “analogical point” or argument, the imagery is drawn out to a greater-or-lesser degree.  As previously stated, Tony Evans is a master at doing this.  He takes several minutes to set up the analogy, calling into play the elements he is going to swing over and use to make his point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.