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Philosophy (101)
PP201 (27)


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Wilfrid Laurier University
Hugh R Alcock

Inductive Reasoning Previously we noted that there are two basic categories of reasoning namely deductive and inductive Last week we looked at deductive reasoning now we turn to consider inductive reasoningTo recapitulate the main points already mentioned about inductive reasoningInductive reasoning is based on inductive inference Sometimes we can confidently infer a conclusion from some set of premisses even though it does not logically or formally follow from them The inference in such cases is said to be ampliative that is we infer more than the premisses formally allow us toA simple example of an inductive argumentEvery emerald that has ever been observed is greenTherefore All emeralds are green The conclusion to this argument is very probably true but it is not conclusive in the sense that it must follow It is at least logically possible that we might one day observe a blue emerald sayHowever the conclusion can be confidently inferred from the evidence of all observations of emeralds hithertoWe are going to look at two broad categories of inductive reasoning based on arguments from generalisations and causal argumentsArguments from GeneralisationsWe begin with what are called universal generalisationsA universal generalisation involves claiming that some relevant property is shared universally by members of a group or class of objects or peopleEg All Chileans speak SpanishIn general an argument from experience involves supporting one or more premisses of an argument by appeal to experience observations For exampleAll the Brazilian musicians Ive ever heard are good So all Brazilian musicians are good Milton Nascimento is a Brazilian musician Therefore Milton Nascimento is a good musician Here the premiss All Brazilian musicians are good is justified from experience just as for example the generalisation All emeralds are green is justified from experience ie inductivelyBut as you probably appreciate from these examples not all experience is equal in this senseBut first we need to introduce a few technical termsTo arrive at the generalisation All Brazilian musicians are good I observed a sample of the population of Brazilian musicians concerning the property of being goodI have generalised a property of a sample of this population namely all the Brazilian musicians Ive observed and extended it to all members of that population
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