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Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning, or induction, refers to inferences from evidence that are more or less plausible; a good inductive inference is likely to be true. In contrast, the conclusions of deductive inferences are guaranteed to be true by the truth of the premises upon which they are based. Deductive inferences occur in mathematical or logical contexts; almost all other judgments involve induction.

Consider a gardener wishing to buy fencing for a square plot 18 feet on a side. Concluding that the perimeter of the plot equals 72 feet is deductive. What it means to be 18 feet on a side is to have a 72 feet perimeter. This deductive inference is an important piece of solving the problem. Ultimately, however, the gardener has to make an inductive ...

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