The inductive argument is a type of reasoning where you start from particular premises to establish universal statements. For example: Pedro jumped into the lake and came out wet; Maria and Juan also jumped into the water and came out wet. In conclusion, all the people who jump into the water come out wet.
In this case, the particular premises are: 1. Pedro jumped into the water and came out wet. 2. Maria and Juan jumped into the water and came out wet. Therefore, the universal statement would be that people get wet if they jump into the water.
Although the conclusions of the inductive argument are probable, this does not mean that they are always true. Therefore, in some cases the conclusions may be wrong. This can be seen in the following example: Andrea is a woman and has long hair; Antonia is also a woman and has long hair. In conclusion, all women have long hair.
The inductive argument should not be confused with deductive reasoning , since the latter part of general notions to establish particular rules. Likewise, the deductive arguments are explanatory, so they do not provide new information.
For example: All felines are mammals; cats are felines (general notion). Therefore, my cat is a mammal (special rule).
On the other hand, the inductive argument allows creating new information from the premises, making it useful for researchers and scientists when generating new hypotheses. That is, inductive reasoning is used by disciplines to generate new experiments, themes, and debates.
Building an inductive argument
To make an inductive argument, consider the following:
The particular premises
When talking about particular premises, reference is made to singular beings or objects or specific things. For example: Socrates, Pope Francis, the Moon, Spain, Pedro or María (among others).
It can also refer to certain elements that belong to a set. For example: some Europeans are blond, some Australians are tanned, certain animals are invertebrates , among others. It should be noted that an inductive argument can be made up of two or more premises.
The universal statements
Universal statements are those whose content fits anywhere and at all times. Generally, its formulation is timeless (that is, it is maintained over time or does not have an expiration period). For example: all living things breathe, all living things will die, among others.
It is important to add that all inductive argument develops from observation. This implies that anyone who makes such reasoning first needs to observe the elements of the reality around him. From her reality, the person can establish the premises.
For example: Observing the nature of his school, a student may consider the following premises; 1. The plant located in the living room has a stem. 2. The plants located at the exit of the school have a stem. In conclusion, all plants have a stem.
Characteristics of the inductive argument
– Establishes valid premises and probable conclusions
The inductive argument is characterized by using valid premises, since these were derived from the observation of reality. For example: Maria is blonde, the dolphin swims, the hummingbird flies …
However, the conclusions of this type of reasoning are not necessarily valid as the premises, since they only need to be probable. Consequently, on some occasions they may be wrong. For example:
Premise 1: Fish have fins.
Premise 2: Dolphins have fins.
Conclusion: all aquatic animals have fins.
– Reason from the particular to the general
As mentioned above, what characterizes inductive reasoning is that it is created from particular or individual aspects to obtain a universal conclusion. For this reason, it is an argument widely used in everyday life. In fact, some claim that it is one of the oldest types of reasoning of man.
– It is interpretive
It is affirmed that the inductive argument is interpretive because all its elaboration depends on the criterion of the observer. That is, the content of the premises and of the conclusion will be delimited by the interpretation of reality that the observer grants it.
For example, if a person has only known green plants in his environment, then he could conclude that all plants are green. For this reason, it is considered that the inductive argument will depend on the perspective of the observer.
– It is dynamic
As inductive arguments are interpretive (they vary according to the interpretation of each observer), they are also dynamic.
This means that they can be modified at any time, so they are constantly changing; in other words, just as observers’ perceptions change, so do the premises and conclusions of this reasoning.
Here are some examples of inductive arguments:
Premise 1: My glasses are made of plastic.
Premise 2: My dad’s glasses are made of plastic.
Premise 3: My sister’s glasses are made of plastic.
Conclusion: all glasses are made of plastic.
Premise 1: The bear we saw in the forest has thick fur.
Premise 2: The bear we saw on Discovery Channel has thick fur.
Conclusion: all bears have abundant fur.
Premise 1: My motorcycle has iron parts.
Premise 2: my friend Luis’s motorcycle has iron parts.
Premise 3: the motorcycle I saw in the workshop has iron parts.
Conclusion: all motorcycles have iron parts.
Premise 1: The neighbor’s canary can sing.
Premise 2: The canary that was shown on television can sing.
Conclusion: all canaries can sing.
Premise 1: The president of Mexico wears a suit during his speeches.
Premise 2: The president of the United States wears a suit during his speeches.
Premise 3: The president of Colombia wears a suit during his speeches.
In conclusion: all presidents wear suits during their speeches.
Themes of interest
Probabilistic argument .
Deductive argument .
Analog argument .
Conductive argument .
Argument from authority .
Abductive argument .
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