Logical reasoning is one of the most talked about concepts in today’s time, and there are a lot of examples too, that indicate how we use logical thinking in everyday life. Pedagogical experts are concerned with strengthening this branch of the intellect so much that each type of reasoning or activity that can stimulate this mental capability is under research.
Logical reasoning, which is often confused with critical thinking, is regarded as the parent branch of inductive and deductive reasoning and it is impossible to fully grasp the concept without breaking it down. Hence, this article concerns itself with inductive and deductive reasoning and how their types can be explained through everyday life examples.
So, let’s understand what exactly is inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.
Dating back to the time of Francis Bacon, inductive reasoning is a method of investigation and reasoning in which the premises of an argument are used to draw a conclusion that is likely, but not certain. It involves going from specific observations to a general conclusion.
Deductive reasoning, on the other hand, is considered to be the oldest form of reasoning, with Aristotle being regarded as the father of deductive reasoning. It is a method of reasoning and investigation in which a conclusion is drawn from one or more premises that are asserted or assumed to be true. It involves going from general principles to a specific conclusion.
While deductive reasoning is considered to be superior in logic, both approaches go hand in hand, and there are some important ways in which they shape everyday life.
Inductive And deductive reasoning examples in everyday life
Both inductive and deductive reasoning are considered to be part of the logical branch of the intellect. While both of them can be practiced in a scientific fashion, most people approach their life using these reasoning models without actually knowing that they are using them. Below are the types of inductive and deductive reasoning according to which everyday examples are listed.
Inductive Reasoning Examples
1. Causal Reasoning
Causal reasoning is attributing a cause to a consequence. For instance, saying that students who watch more TV perform poorly at school. This is an observation that one has made, based on which they are able to say there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. As there are multiple causes for an occurrence or action, causal reasoning can sometimes be faulty and lead to stereotypes.
For instance, in the above examples, saying that more TV hours are responsible for poor academic performance, can lead to teachers and parents ignoring the challenges faced by children in different subjects. Finding out causal relationships between two variables can provide us with important insights and help us take appropriate measures. For instance, identifying why a student failed a test, by evaluating the strongest and most rational influence, can help establish an appropriate causal relationship, so that the student can make informed decisions to improve his/her performance.
Generalization can be thought of as an opinion or pattern of thought, which emerges after repeated exposure to recurrent patterns. A more elaborate definition of generalization could be the construction of general principles from commonalities observed between instances. For instance, dogs always chase cats, which is a right generalization, as it is a universally accepted phenomenon. However, generalization can have downsides too, if there are fewer instances used to arrive at a conclusion.
For instance, if somebody has had an upset stomach twice after eating mangoes, they can come to a conclusion and generalize that mangoes cause an upset stomach, instead of trying to find out what else could have happened which led to the stomach issue. Hence, while generalizations help us in unfamiliar situations, overgeneralizations can affect the very rational stem of mental processing.
3. Sign Reasoning or Prediction
Sign reasoning can be another example of how inductive reasoning is used in our everyday lives. Unlike causal reasoning, which focuses on finding causes or attributes of an occurrence, sign reasoning uses cues that can come before or coexist with the event or occurrence. Sign reasoning can be seen as signals that are related to an event but do not cause it.
For instance, people know that red light in the traffic signal means halt and green light means drive ahead, and it is an example of one’s understanding of “what leads to where”. Another example of sign reasoning could be a change in season or weather. For instance, whenever there is a slight change in temperatures, days become shorter and the climate becomes dry and windy, we induce that winters are approaching.
4. Analogical Reasoning
Life is a box of chocolates- Forrest Gump
Analogical reasoning is a type of inductive reasoning, where commonalities between diverse unrelated events are derived, through careful deliberation and thought. People with superior analogical reasoning have been shown to possess the highest form of intellect. Analogies often involve the use of comparison.
For instance, comparing two institutions delivering the same knowledge would involve looking at their faculty, alumni, history, and reputation. However, more complex analogies have been drawn by spirituals, gurus, philanthropists, and philosophers. The above-mentioned quote from the classic movie Forrest Gump, Life is a box of chocolates, is an example of analogical reasoning where life is being compared to a box of chocolates, as the person might never know what is going to come their way.
Deductive Reasoning Examples
Deductive reasoning is the most applicable in mathematical knowledge. Deductive reasoning is based on arriving at a conclusion by analyzing every bit of information. Most mathematical conclusions are based on a type of deductive reasoning called Syllogism, which can be simply explained by the expression:
If A=B, and B=C, then A=C.
Mathematical concepts of divisibility, multiples, and derivations are arrived at through deductive reasoning. For instance, using the information that all numbers divisible by 10 are also divisible by 2, one can arrive at the conclusion that all the multiples of 10 are actually multiples of 2.
2. Modus Ponens
Modus Ponens is a type of deductive reasoning that people use most often in their everyday life. This deductive reasoning is preceded by a conditional statement and followed by an affirming statement. Hence, consisting of an antecedent and consequent.
In the above-given example, the conditional statement is “If it’s a dog, then it has fur.” The antecedent is “This is a dog,” and the consequent is “It has fur.” The statement “This is a dog” is true, and since the conditional statement is also true, we can conclude that the consequent, “It has fur,” must also be true.
3. Modus Tollens
Modus Tollens is another type of deductive reasoning that is commonly practiced in everyday life. It is the opposite of Modus Ponens and hence, uses the same format of antecedent and consequent. The only difference here is that the conditional statement is followed by a refuting statement. For instance, taking the dog and fur logic, if a child sees a dog without fur, he/she is most likely to deny identifying the animal as a dog.
4. Hypothesis Testing
The term hypothesis testing implies a scientific process in which an assumption is put to test. As a hypothesis is formed using previously known theories, hypothesis testing is well-grounded in the deductive reasoning model, as it uses Modus Ponens or Modus Tollens to form a hypothesis. In other words, hypotheses are formed in a way that accepts or refutes the conclusion.
For instance, forming a hypothesis that all dogs have fur, will either lead to the conclusion that all breeds of dogs will have furs or that those who don’t have furs are not dogs.
Evaluating the difference between Inductive and Deductive reasoning
|Inductive Reasoning||Deductive Reasoning|
|Approach||Bottom Up||Top Down|
|Based on||Specific Observations or instances||Previous literature, theories, or facts|
|Nature||Inductive reasoning is empirical and focuses on patterns and trends||Deductive reasoning is experimental and focuses on the logical structure of the premise|
|Conclusions||Specific observations lead to general conclusions||General premise leads to specific conclusions or predictions|
|Purpose||Inductive reasoning forms hypotheses and makes predictions||Deductive reasoning tests hypotheses and validates or invalidates conclusions|
|Logical Arguments||Inductive reasoning leads to strong or weak arguments||Deductive reasoning forms that can be valid or invalid|
Science or scientific knowledge owes a lot to both inductive and deductive discoveries. Even though there are clear-cut differences and inductive reasoning is considered to be less superior than deductive reasoning, there is no doubt that these differences only complement areas of research. For instance, knowing facts and theories is as important as careful analysis of observed data and neither of them can be discarded from the field of research. Hence, both deductive and inductive reasoning allows exploration and investigation of various aspects of the world.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,