ArgLab • International Seminar

A positive role for negative analogies

Andreas Hüttemann

In her work on models and analogies Mary Hesse introduced the term “negative analogies”. It stands for properties of the model that the target system lacks. In my talk I will explore, first, why according to Hesse we need to use models in science, second, what Hesse has to say about the role of negative analogies in particular. I will then argue that the role of negative analogies is best understood in the context of a more general account of idealization. Negative analogies, conceived of as idealizations, provide us with knowledge of invariance relations, or more generally with modal knowledge.


Andreas Hüttemann is a Professor for Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Cologne. He is interested in the relation of scientific practice and issues of metaphysics. Among his recent publications is “A Minimal Metaphysics for Scientific Practice”, which has been published by Cambridge University Press (2021). Currently he is working on a book that explores what philosophy of science can contribute to the free will debate.