Inductive argument – What it is, definition and concept

An inductive argument is constructed after observing that numerous similar cases exhibit the same behavior. Thus, the repeating behavior is extrapolated to all similar cases.

The inductive argument requires the observation of a large number of cases. When we observe that in them there are certain patterns that are repeated, we generalize arguing that if it is repeated in the observed ones, it is repeated in all cases.

In the scientific field, it is developed through the inductive method. It is about moving from the particular to the general. The benefit of this type of reasoning is that the new knowledge has more information than the premises: the premises are parts, the resulting argument is the whole.

In this type of argument, the premises we use provide us with a solid base, but they do not guarantee the validity of our argument, since there can always be exceptions.

Inductive argument problems

The problem that we face with inductive reasoning is precisely that of not guaranteeing that the patterns observed in part of them are always fulfilled in all cases. That is, its characteristic at the same time is its weakness.

For example, if we have only consistently seen and tasted red wine, we will claim that all wines are red. But it is false, since there really are other varieties such as white or pink.

Construction of an inductive argument

An inductive argument is built through observation and verification that one or more patterns are met in the cases studied. That is, it goes from the particular to the general.

Steps for construction:

  1. A specific fact is observed, such as that dogs have four legs.
  2. All possible cases and events are observed and analyzed. In this case we will look for all the dogs that we can and we will analyze if they have four legs.
  3. We will confirm or deny the hypothesis depending on whether or not the expectations of the analysis performed have been met. In this case we find all dogs with four legs, therefore we affirm that all dogs have four legs.

Examples

The examples that we can show are diverse and very illustrative:

  • Soccer: If the forward of team A scores a lot of goals; team B striker scores many goals; and the forward of team C scores many goals. We will say that all forwards score many goals.
  • Exams: If José Antonio gets a 9 in mathematics, a 10 in philosophy and a 9 in geography. We will say that José Antonio gets good grades.
  • Alcoholic drinks: If whiskey makes me feel bad, gin makes me feel bad, wine makes me feel bad, and rum makes me feel bad. We will say that alcoholic beverages make me feel bad.

Differences between inductive and deductive argument

The difference between the two arguments is the way they are constructed.

In the inductive, as we have just seen, we go from the particular to the general. On the contrary, the deductive method affirms particularities through the observation of generalities. The inductive argument provides new information, the deductive does not, it affirms what we know.

Inductive argument Deductive argument
Juan is blond Julian’s children are blond
Amanda is blonde Juan is the son of Julián
Juan and Amanda are Julián’s children Juan is blond
Julian’s children are blond

As we can see, through the inductive method we generate new information, since we did not know that Julián’s children were blond. Through the deductive, knowing that his children were blond, therefore we confirm that Juan (Julián’s son) is blond.

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