What is the Difference Between Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

The main difference between deductive and inductive reasoning is that deductive reasoning involves moving from general observations to specific conclusions, while inductive reasoning involves moving from specific observations to general explanations.

Deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning are two opposite processes of reasoning. Both are used in combination in scientific methods.  

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Deductive Reasoning
     – Definition, Features, Examples
2. What is Inductive Reasoning
     – Definition, Features, Examples
3. Difference Between Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Deductive Reasoning, Inductive Reasoning 

Difference Between Deductive and Inductive Reasoning - Comparison Summary

 

What is Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is the process of reasoning that starts from general statements to reach a logical conclusion. It involves thinking from general to specific. This method is sometimes also called the top-down approach. We use deductive reasoning in the scientific method to prove premises and hypotheses.  

Syllogisms are a good example to explain deductive reasoning. These use conditional statements to form a conclusion by joining the hypothesis of one statement with the other. For example,

  1. Shadow is a dog.
  2. All dogs are mammals.
  3. Therefore, Shadow is a mammal.

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning- What is the difference?

We can evaluate deductive arguments in terms of their validity and soundness. For an argument to be valid, the conclusion has to be true if the premises are true.  But it’s important to note that an argument can be valid even if one or more premises are false. Furthermore, an argument is sound if it’s valid and its premises are true. Interestingly, there can be deductive arguments that are logically valid but not sound.

What is Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is the process of reasoning that moves from specific observations to broader generalizations. Therefore, it’s the opposite of deductive reasoning. We also call it bottom-up logic. In this process of reasoning, we make many observations, determine a pattern, make a generalization, and come up with an explanation/theory.

Deductive vs Inductive Reasoning

For example, imagine there is a bag of pebbles. You put your hand inside it and take out a pebble. This pebble turns out to be blue in color. You pull out a pebble again, and it’s also a blue pebble. The next pebble you take out is also blue. Then, you come to the conclusion that all pebbles in this bag are blue in color.

Difference Between Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Definition

Deductive reasoning is the process of reasoning that starts from general statements to reach a logical conclusion while inductive reasoning is the process of reasoning that moves from specific observations to broader generalizations.

General vs Specific

Deductive reasoning involves moving from general to specific while inductive reasoning involves moving from specific to general.

Approach

While deductive reasoning involves a top-down approach, inductive reasoning involves a bottom-up approach.

Validity

In deductive reasoning, the conclusion has to be true if the premises are true, but in inductive reasoning, the truth of premises does not necessarily guarantee the truth of conclusions.

Usage

We typically use inductive reasoning in our daily lives since it’s fast and easy to use, but deductive reasoning is comparatively more difficult as we need facts that are definitely true.

Conclusion

In brief, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning are two opposite processes of reasoning. The main difference between deductive and inductive reasoning is that deductive reasoning involves moving from general observations to specific conclusions while inductive reasoning involves moving from specific observations to general explanations. Therefore, deductive reasoning involves a top-down approach, while inductive reasoning involves a bottom-up approach.

Reference:

1. “Deductive Reasoning.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Oct. 2021.
2. “Inductive Reasoning.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Nov. 2021.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Flowers Deductive Reasoning” By Maltewoest at English Wikibooks (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Inductive Deductive Reasoning” By Brian Brondel at English Wikibooks (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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