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Now that you know the basics, let’s talk about the two key types of reasoning: inductive and deductive reasoning. For example, let’s say that, during Monday’s lecture, Professor Smith mentions that fast food restaurants serve food that’s too high in sodium and fat.With inductive reasoning, you use facts, patterns, and other information to reach a conclusion. On Wednesday, he states that prices of fast food restaurants may be cheap (in some cases), but the food they serve is barely edible.
Based on his pattern of statements, you can use inductive reasoning to conclude that Professor Smith doesn’t eat at fast food restaurants.
You’ve used specific examples of your professor’s comments to infer a larger theory or premise about his behavior.
It uses specific examples to create a more generalized theory. Let’s also say that this pattern continues on a somewhat regular basis.
Throughout the semester, he makes negative comments about the nutritional value of fast food.
In this example, even though your professor made numerous negative comments about fast food restaurants, you might learn that he occasionally (or even frequently) eats at them.
Because your original conclusion is invalid, you might examine the evidence again to draw different conclusions.
But you’ve probably used one of these types of reasoning to reach conclusions.
So what’s the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning, and how do you distinguish between the two if you’re asked to use one (or both) in a paper? In essence, reasoning is the process of logically and rationally thinking about something in order to draw a conclusion.
Deductive reasoning is commonly used in police work, investigative reporting, the sciences (including medicine), law, and, oddly enough, literary analysis. Each paragraph focuses on a particular aspect or a particular point, using detail and examples to lead to a specific conclusion.
The support for one's conclusion is the most important factor.