inductive reasoning is simply the use of deductive reasoning with an assumption that is supported by empirical evidence or logic. For example: John and Mary are walking down the street and both of them are clearly drunk. John gets out a can and throws it at Mary. Mary staggers back in fright and falls on the ground. John then says that if Mary had been using deductive reasoning she would have known that getting out of the can would mean falling down and that therefore John was wrong.
This is a simple example, but let me ask you a question. If you were to ever ask me a question like this: What is true about black and white objects? I could give you three possible answer choices. One answer is obviously false and two answers would be correct. So in this case we already know that inductive reasoning can be applied to a situation and therefore is not only limited to inductive reasoning.
Now the problem comes in when someone uses inductive reasoning to prove a proposition. When you use inductive reasoning, you have to take into consideration all the possible outcomes. If there were only two possible outcomes then inductive logic would be pointless because there wouldn’t be any use to it. In other words, the premises to your argument must be true in order for your conclusion to be true. The premises to your argument must also follow from the conclusion. You cannot argue from premises that don’t make the necessary connection to the conclusion.
Here’s an example using the above example. John gives you the recipe for strawberry pudding. You ask him how he came up with that recipe. John responds by asking you if you’ve eaten strawberries before. You answer no, so John continues by asking you where you found the recipe, if you remember eating strawberries and if you can make the strawberry pudding with the extra ingredients.
Based on the above information, John infers that if you like strawberries, then you must make the pudding with extra strawberries. Based on the previous information, John concludes that if you’ve eaten strawberries before, then you must make the pudding with extra strawberries. Therefore, he infers that you like strawberries, so the conclusion of his argument is that the recipe for strawberry pudding is correct. However, John overlooks two important factors. Firstly, in order for his argument to be valid, both of the premises to his argument must be true. If only one of the premises is true, then his argument is invalid because there is no valid conclusion.
Another reason why many people use deductive reasoning skills when they think of a problem is because it is a very simple technique to perform. When you use inductive reasoning skills when you’re solving a problem, you solve a problem that doesn’t need logic or reason; all you have to do is apply basic logic. Once you have a solution to a problem, you can then use more complex reasoning to support and improve your initial solution. For instance, if you discover that Jane has been late for work several times, and she consistently gets upset when she’s late, you can use this as grounds for suspicion.
For instance, if Jane always gets upset when she’s late for work, you could conclude that she doesn’t like her job very much, and this could motivate you to find out what she’s angry about, find out how she gets upset, and learn why she gets upset so often. You then use the second premise of her first assumption to argue that her first assumption is incorrect, and therefore, her first premise must be false, and therefore, her second premise must also be false. This way, you’ve verified three additional reasons why she gets upset, and you’ve strengthened your case for concluding that she doesn’t like her job very much. In fact, you may even discover that she doesn’t like her job at all!