Deductive essays are an important factor in evaluating the knowledge level of students in many courses.
Deductive reasoning is based on the concept that given as set of circumstances or clues (premises), one can draw a reasonable assumption as to the state of the situation. More simply, a person can solve a puzzle or identify a person if given enough information.
Specifically, deductive reasoning takes individual factors, weighs them against the current knowledge about such things, and adds them up to come to a conclusion. There are three parts to deductive reasoning. The first is the PREMISE. A premise is a basic fact or belief that is used as the basis for drawing conclusions. There may be several PREMISES in an argument. The second part is called EVIDENCE. The evidence is the information you have before you, whether it is a story you are analyzing or something you have observed. The last part is the CONCLUSION. The conclusion is your final analysis of the situation, based on balancing PREMISES with EVIDENCE. A simplified example might be as follows:
- premise: all dogs are animals
- evidence: Fido is a dog
- conclusion: Fido is an animal.
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This is not a complex deductive exercise, but it is accurate.
We use deductive reasoning quite commonly in day-to-day life. For example, say you look out your window some morning and see the street is wet. There are several ways you could interpret this information. You might assume a large water truck has just driven by, inundating the area with spray. Possibly, you may decide that water has soaked up from the ground. Most likely, however, you will likely decide that it has rained. Why? Based on your life experience and likely factors, the most logical deduction is that a wet street is the result of rainfall. There are other possibilities, but the most logical deduction is rain. If, however, you were SURE that there had been no rain, or you were aware of a street cleaning program, your deduction would change appropriately. Deductive reasoning takes the MOST REASONABLE, LIKELY path, but is not necessarily fool-proof. Deductive reasoning is commonly used in police work, investigative reporting, the sciences (including medicine), law, and, oddly enough, literary analysis.
A good deductive essay is clear and focused. Each paragraph focuses on a particular aspect or a particular point, using detail and examples to lead to a specific conclusion. The support for one's conclusion is the most important factor. In other words, without supporting one's point, the conclusion is weak.
Here are the examples of the popular topics for deductive essays and papers:
- Online Education Courses and Degrees
- Democracy vs Communism
- International Immigrants and Freedom
- The Harm of Lie, The Harm of Truth
- The Love vs Habit
When you start building an argument, you need to decide whether you're going to use deductive or inductive reasoning to prove your point.
Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific. Sometimes this is informally called a "top-down" approach. We might begin with thinking up a theory about our topic of interest. We then narrow that down into more specific hypotheses that we can test. We narrow down even further when we collect observations to address the hypotheses. This ultimately leads us to be able to test the hypotheses with specific data -- a confirmation (or not) of our original theories. (Source: Web Centre for Social Research Methods: Research Methods Knowledge Base: Deductive and Inductive Thinking)
Inductive reasoning works the other way, moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories. Informally, we sometimes call this a "bottom up" approach (please note that it's "bottom up" and not "bottoms up" which is the kind of thing the bartender says to customers when he's trying to close for the night!). In inductive reasoning, we begin with specific observations and measures, begin to detect patterns and regularities, formulate some tentative hypotheses that we can explore, and finally end up developing some general conclusions or theories.(Source: Web Centre for Social Research Methods: Research Methods Knowledge Base: Deductive and Inductive Thinking)
What's the Difference?
- "Inductive reasoning...is more open-ended and exploratory, especially at the beginning."
- "Deductive reasoning is more narrow in nature and is concerned with testing or confirming hypotheses."
(Source: Web Centre for Social Research Methods: Research Methods Knowledge Base: Deductive and Inductive Thinking)
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