what is the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning?

Posted on 2014-10-10
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-10-17
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

            I am wondering what the difference is between inductive and deductive reasoning.  I remember touching some on these concepts from a past cognitive psychology course, but I am not exactly sure what the distinctions are between these two types of problem solving skills.  

           Thank you

Question by:GMartin
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LVL 27

Accepted Solution

aburr earned 800 total points
ID: 40373720

because A and B, we deduce C
because C, we induce A and B
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

by:Paul Sauvé
Paul Sauvé earned 600 total points
ID: 40373798
Wikipedia is a good starting point for understanding the concepts of inductive and deductive reasoning.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic or logical deduction or, informally, "top-down" logic, is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logically certain conclusion.
Inductive reasoning (as opposed to deductive reasoning) is reasoning in which the premises seek to supply strong evidence for (not absolute proof of) the truth of the conclusion. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is supposed to be certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument is supposed to be probable, based upon the evidence given.

Author Comment

ID: 40375801
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

            I believe I have the general idea behind the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning after going over the feedback.  In response to the feedback given, I would now like to test myself to determine if I have a clear distinction between these two higher cognitive functions by supplying the following hypothetical examples.

           Example of deductive reasoning:  If a person does not brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day, he or she will run the risk of developing  cavites.    I believe this example would parallell with the aburr's response of "because A and B, we deduce C"

           Example of inductive reasoning:  If a person has cavities, then he or she is probably not brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.   I believe this example captures the other point given by aburr which is "because C, we induce A and B"

            I further believe these examples stay consistent with the information given within the Wikipedia article supplied by paulsuave.  To further add, it seems to me that both deductive and inductive reasoning are not absolute truths.  Instead, they are calculated hunches or guesses about what a true situation might be.  In other words, they are not absolutes or 100% accuracties because of being tainted by mankind's perceptions which are colored by their unique background experiences, education, and even brain wave activity utilized in problem solving.  

LVL 32

Assisted Solution

phoffric earned 600 total points
ID: 40375846
>> it seems to me that both deductive and inductive reasoning are not absolute truths.  Instead, they are calculated hunches or guesses about what a true situation might be.
According to the Wiki link, deductive reasoning leads to certainties.

Their first example is standard deductive reasoning:
1.All men are mortal.
2.Socrates is a man.
3.Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
It is not a calculated hunch or guess that "Socrates is mortal" if you accept the first two premises that "All men are mortal" and that "Socrates is a man".

What were your steps in deductive reasoning to conclude that "If a person does not brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day, he or she will run the risk of developing  cavities."?

Author Comment

ID: 40387660
Hello and Good Evening Everyone,

              Thanks for explaining the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning.  My example of deductive reasoning was probably not a very good one.  However, I will take a moment and try to explain my reasoning for giving it as an attempt to convey my interpretation of deductive reasoning.  If a person does not brush their teeth twice a day (condition A) and floss once a day (condition B), then, it is reasonable to conclude that this person will run the risk of developing cavitites (condition C) or outcome  Looking at my example in a more methodical manner, conditions A and B are considered as risk factors by the dental health community  for condition C or dental cavities.   In statistical terms, these (A & B) could be considered as independent variables which lead to something that is predictable to happen (C)which can be considered the dependent variable.  In other words, the independent variables mentioned earlier are "predictors" and the dependent variable is what is "predicted".  

              In conclusion, I do acknowledge and agree that certain statements given as logical arguments rooted in deductive reasoning are truths.   When dealing with correlational variables, I still believe that certain statements are based upon statistical probability and estimates.  Perhaps my example is better suited for inductive reasoning as opposed to deductive reasoning.   I guess my confusion here stems from how risk factors for various dental and medical problems are categorized within the realms of reasoning.  Do they fall within the category of deductive or inductive reasoning?  Or, does it fall within a black and white category at all?  Can stated risk factors for various chronic illnesses given by doctors and dentists have characteristics of both deductive and inductive reasoning?  


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