Inductive vs. deductive reasoning! No matter how unrealistic that sounds, in many fields, such as science and law, “proof” simply doesn’t exist; there can only be facts and evidence that lead you to certain conclusions. For instance, a scientist can’t prove a theory, but he can make observations and realize that this theory must be true. Or, a lawyer can’t actually prove that a crime took place and that one specific person is a criminal, but he can provide convincing evidence.
Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning
In order to get as close as possible to the truth, either inductive or deductive reasoning can be used. But what is the difference between them?
Someone who uses INDUCTIVE reasoning makes specific observations and then draws a general conclusion. DEDUCTIVE reasoning is the opposite: here, a specific conclusion follows a general theory.
- INDUCTIVE reasoning:
Every quiz has been easy. Therefore, the test will be easy.
- DEDUCTIVE reasoning:
All students in this class play guitar.
Sam is a student of this class.
Therefore, Sam plays guitar.
When to Use Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning
Let’s say that you find yourself at a conference where you know that all the people present are thirty or older. You notice Maria in the room. Therefore, Maria is at least thirty years old. You’ve taken a general theory, i.e. that all people in the room are thirty or older, and applied it to one specific person there, i.e. Maria. So, you used deductive reasoning to determine her age.
In a different example, let’s imagine that you’re asking all of your friends which countries they’ve traveled to. The first friend you ask tells you that he’s been to Italy. The second one also says that he’s been to Italy, and the third one as well. Therefore, you draw the conclusion that all of your friends have been to Italy. Here, you’ve collected specific facts about specific people and applied them to a wider group. You’ve used inductive reasoning.
When you’re using deductive reasoning, your conclusion will be correct if all the statements you say is correct. It makes sense: if something is true for everyone in a group, it will also be true for one randomly selected person from this group. However, if the premise is false, the conclusion will be logical, but also false. For instance, if you state that all cats are black and then draw a conclusion that your neighbor’s cat is black too, it will make sense but it won’t be correct because not all cats are black.
On the other hand, when you’re using inductive reasoning, correct observations won’t necessarily lead you to a correct general conclusion. For instance, the fact that three of the people you know have dark hair doesn’t mean that all the people you know have dark hair. In other words, something that is true about some certain members of the group doesn’t have to be true about the group as a whole.
Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning Examples
- At the conference, all the people present are thirty or older.
Maria is in the room.
Therefore, Maria is at least thirty years old.
- The teacher used PPT in the last few classes. Therefore, the teacher will use PPT tomorrow.
Difference between Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning | Picture
Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning Difference