Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is where the evidence for the conclusion of an argument is probabilistic rather than certain. It is possible to accept the premises of the argument but for the conclusion to turn out to be false. An example of this is scientific reasoning. Scientists collect evidence that point toward a conclusion. If done correctly, scientists are probable in their conclusion. However, new evidence can always come to light that disproves their conclusion.

For example, imagine that every strawberry you have seen previously is is red. You conclude from this the next strawberry you are going to see is red.

Most people will agree that this is a sensible conclusion. If most of the strawberries you have seen previously are red, then it is most likely that the next one you see is red.

However, despite it being sensible, there are scenarios where the next strawberry you see may not be red. There are breeds of strawberry that are white rather than red. Someone may have also dyed a strawberry.

As such, the argument that the next strawberry you are going to see is red is inductive as it is probable, not certain.

This contrasts to deductive reasoning, where, if you accept the premises, the conclusion must also be true.

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