Similarity (philosophy)  

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In philosophy, similarity or resemblance is a relation between objects that constitutes how much these objects are alike. Similarity comes in degrees: e.g. oranges are more similar to apples than to the moon. It is traditionally seen as an internal relation and analyzed in terms of shared properties: two things are similar because they have a property in common. The more properties they share, the more similar they are. They resemble each other exactly if they share all their properties. So an orange is similar to the moon because they both share the property of being round, but it is even more similar to an apple because additionally, they both share various other properties, like the property of being a fruit. On a formal level, similarity is usually considered to be a relation that is reflexive (everything resembles itself), symmetric (if a is similar to b then b is similar to a) and non-transitive (a need not resemble c despite a resembling b and b resembling c). Similarity comes in two forms: respective similarity, which is relative to one respect or feature, and overall similarity, which expresses the degree of resemblance between two objects all things considered. There is no general consensus whether similarity is an objective, mind-independent feature of reality, and, if so, whether it is a fundamental feature or reducible to other features. Resemblance is central to human cognition since it provides the basis for the categorization of entities into kinds and for various other cognitive processes like analogical reasoning. Similarity has played a central role in various philosophical theories, e.g. as a solution to the problem of universals through resemblance nominalism or in the analysis of counterfactuals in terms of similarity between possible worlds.

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