The cognitive work of metaphor and analogy in scientific practice

Nancy J. Nersessian


In this paper I consider how contemporary research from cognitive science and philosophy of science reinforce and can be used to articulate further Mary Hesse’s project of a “family resemblance research program” for analyzing scientific change. After briefly discussing Hesse’s insights about the metaphorical nature of scientific language, the analysis shifts the discussion to the current philosophical focus on models and on scientific practices, rather than language. Using cases drawn from historical and ethnographic research on scientific practices, I argue for the centrality of a family resemblance notion for capturing the dynamics of concept representation and of analogy for model-based reasoning processes in concept formation and problem solving more broadly.


concept formation; analogy; family resemblance; models. 1.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.