In recent years, it has been changing times for logic. The demand for critical thinking in institutions and increased questioning of the role and usefulness of formal logic make it questionable whether there is any longer a clear and appropriate definition of the term reasoning. Nevertheless, reasoning is the capacity of an individual to make sense of things. It is the process of developing judgements and forming conclusions from facts or premises. This involves establishing and verifying facts, and rationally working through information, data, and beliefs to form a conclusion. Reasoning can be simply defined as the ability of a person to think coherently from a perceived premise and form a logical conclusion (Heit & Rotello, 2010).
Inductive reasoning is a type of argument where a person uses examples, analogies, and observations to form conclusions. It also uses experiences to come up with statements based on general observation of repetitive patterns in nature, science, and daily occurrences. It is mostly used to explain relations and properties of subjects based on previous observations. Inductive reasoning establishes their conclusions through observable and predictable certainty and not with absolute certainty. Additionally, matrix and analogical reasoning use the inductive reasoning that correlates information that compares the similarities between new and understood thoughts. The similarity helps in understanding the new concepts. It corresponds to approximate, uncertain, probabilistic reasoning and with that, corresponds to daily reasoning (Oaksford & Chater, 2010). People draw inferences on a regular basis such as how the weather will be, how a person will react to something, how a meal will taste, and these are typical inductive inferences. Additionally, inductive reasoning is a multifaceted cognitive activity. It ranges from children answering simple questions about cartoon pictures to adults making probability judgements of complex verbal arguments. Other cognitive activities that use inductive reasoning include similarity judgement, categorization, decision-making, and probability interpretation. For example, in a category-based induction, one might infer that his neighbor sleeps even if he has never seen him sleeping based on the fact that the neighbor is human (Heit & Hayes,2005).
Deductive reasoning is the form of argument where logical and coherent factual proposition and premises help form conclusions. Its arguments are based on the concept of sound and consistent reasoning. If the premises are true, then the systematic reasoning with a logical syllogism becomes valid in a deductive reasoning. Consequently, the conclusion becomes inevitable with a degree of reasonable certainty (Klauer, Musch, & Naumer, 2000). In deductive reasoning, reasoning follows a hierarchy of truths or statements. It starts with a limited number of basic simple assumptions or statements and builds up to more complex ones. For example in analytical geometry in mathematics, you start with a few principles and prove various propositions using those principles. For propositions that are more complicated, you may use the already established plans plus the original principles.
Although deductive and inductive reasoning are considered alternatives to each other, the similarities are much greater than the differences. The difference between the two reasoning traits is not always clear. People distinguish between them by the sense that, induction is moving from a specific concept to the general concept while deduction begins with the general concept and move to the particular concept. If a person believes that, the truth of the premises establishes the truth of the conclusion based on logical entailment, definition, or mathematical necessity, them the reasoning is a logical one. In contrast, when a person does not think that the truth of a premise establishes the truth of the conclusion, but nonetheless believes that the fact provides a good reason to believe the conclusion to be correct, and then the reasoning is inductive.
Abductive reasoning is an argument to the best explanation. It is a form of argument where conclusions are drawn from what is plausible or most possibly true. The person who gives the best answer of a problem is considered to be true as the inference is done to the best explanation. In adductive reasoning, higher consideration goes to the best hypothesis based upon relevant evidence. Some people associate it to inductive reasoning because it is not as sound logically as deductive reasoning, which uses pure logic in deducing arguments. Nevertheless, others link it to deductive reasoning because using sound logic; one eliminates the most absurd arguments for them to come to a conclusion on the most reasonable solution. Abductive reasoning can best be described as the best compromise between a deductive and an inductive argument. For example, you are a juror on your first day and the defendant resembles a man caught on camera robbing a bank. As the accused answers questions, he stutters and pauses as if he is guilty. Based on your observation, you conclude that he is guilty. Here, you have made a decision, but you are not certain it is the right decision (Schroyens & Schaeken, 2003).
The reductive reasoning is a reasoning that shows a statement is true by showing that an absurd result follows from its denial. It shows the absurd circumstances of the opposite result to prove that a statement is true. It is also considered a mixture of inductive and deductive reasoning; inductive because it tries to establish an understanding of what is likely to be true and deductive because it does not resemble traits of a critical and rational deduction.
Fallacious reasoning is a faulty premise of critical thinking and logic. In other words, it is not a real thought. It is usually an error in reasoning and argumentation mostly caused by a misconception, presumptuous conclusions, or false premises. For example, when someone says, “Lots of people are buying this book, so it must be good.” Is a fallacy based on an appeal to popular opinion?
Heit, E., & Hayes, B. K. (2005). Relations among categorization, induction, recognition, and similarity: Comment on Sloutsky and Fisher (2004).
Heit, E., & Rotello, C. M. (2010). Relations between inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(3), 805.
Klauer, K. C., Musch, J., & Naumer, B. (2000). On belief bias in syllogistic reasoning. Psychological review, 107(4), 852.
Oaksford, M., & Chater, N. (2010). Cognition and conditionals: Probability and logic in human thinking. Oxford University Press.
Schroyens, W., Schaeken, W., & Handley, S. (2003). In search of counter-examples: Deductive rationality in human reasoning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Section A, 56(7), 1129-1145.