Parallels, prescience and the past: analogical reasoning and contemporary international politics

Article English OPEN
Mumford, Andrew (2015)
  • Publisher: Springer
  • Journal: International Politics
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1057/ip.2014.40
  • Subject: Political Science and International Relations | Geography, Planning and Development

Analogical reasoning has held a perpetual appeal to policymakers who have often drafted in historical metaphor as a mode of informing decision-making. However, this article contends that since the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’ we have arguably seen the rise of a more potent form of analogy, namely ones that are selected because they fulfil an ideological function. Analogical reasoning as a tool of rational decision-making has increasingly become replaced by analogical reasoning as a tool of trenchant ideologically-informed policy justification. This article addresses three key areas which map out the importance of analogical reasoning to an understanding of developments in contemporary international politics: the relationship between history and politics, in intellectual and policy terms; a critical assessment of the appeal that analogical reasoning holds for policymakers; and the development of a rationale for a more effective use of history in international public policymaking.
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