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Difference between Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning

Difference between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning

In our daily lives, we make decisions based on our reasoning but this is a process that varies depending on the situation obtaining on the ground.

Reasoning mainly pertains to the aspect of using different thoughts to create a valid argument that can be used to make a decision. As such, it can be noted that there are mainly two types of reasoning called deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

Both are based on the use of logic and more often, people tend to confuse these two and use them interchangeably but as a matter of fact, these concepts are different. As such, the meaning of each form of reasoning is explained below and the differences between them are clearly outlined.

Deductive Reasoning and its key Features

Deductive reasoning uses true premises as well as true conclusions that are also valid as well. General premises or principles are often used in deduction reasoning and these lead to the creation of valid and true conclusion.

As a general principle, it is believed that all human beings have brains that help them to reason in a logical manner. Therefore, human brains are central in the reasoning capability of all people. This premise is true in the sense that human beings use their brains to reason in a logical manner as well as to create valid reasons.

The other key feature of deductive reasoning is that it is often referred to as top down reasoning. It starts with a true generalized premise that is later explained in detail to give a true and valid conclusion.

In other words, the premise on top is general and in order for people to understand it, it has to be explained such that a true conclusion becomes understandable to many people.

The other key characteristic of deductive reasoning is that it is viewed as a basic form of logical reasoning that is also valid. It begins by a general statement that is also known as a hypothesis and this helps people to reach a valid conclusion. It uses a scientific method to test the validity of the proposed hypothesis and theories involved in a particular study. The observations can be scientifically tested so as to ensure that the conclusion reached is valid and true.

Deductive reasoning follows steps where the first one is a premise followed by the second premise then the third step is inference of logic to come out with valid meaning of the conclusion.

In this case, the first premise can be the major one while the second one is minor but they are combined to give a valid conclusion. However, the main point that should be noted is that both major and minor premises should be true in order to get a true conclusion.

Whenever a premise is generally true, it means that the conclusion is likely to be true.  However, logical conclusions can be derived in cases where generalization about something is wrong.

Inductive Reasoning and its key Features

The main difference between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning is that the later is opposite to the former. In other words, inductive reasoning is primarily concerned with making generalizations that are broad and these are based on specific observations. Data is availed first where observations are made and these are used to draw conclusions from the data.

This is unlike deductive reasoning that is based on the general premise that that is believed to give a true conclusion. In case of inductive reasoning, broad generalizations are drawn from observable data unlike general premises that are used in deductive reasoning.

The other notable difference between inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning is that inductive reasoning is where the premise supports the conclusion. In other words, the premise is the actual hypothesis and the conclusion is seen as part of the reasoning of which inductive reasoning is trying to support. Inductive reasoning is based on probable conclusion in contrast to deductive reasoning that starts with a general premise that seeks to prove a conclusion.

The other difference between deductive and inductive reasoning is that inductive reasoning is also regarded as “bottom up reasoning.”

Inductive reasoning tries to establish the cause of certain action and its likely effect. Therefore, the cause and effect reasoning in this case is used to prove the conclusion not the conclusion proving a premise like in deductive reasoning. However, the other notable aspect about inductive reasoning is that even if the premises in a statement are true, there is allowance for the conclusion to be false. For instance, bald headedness does not necessarily mean that all people with bald heads are grandfathers, a conclusion that is approved in inductive reasoning.

Difference between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning-1

 Summary of Major Differences Between Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

In brief it can be observed that there is a difference between deductive and inductive reasoning though they are both based on logic. The following are the main differences between the two.

Premise of reasoning

  • Deductive reasoning is based on general premise and this is usually true and it also gives a true conclusion to the line of thought.
  • Inductive reasoning specifically induces a particular premise that is then used as the basis for making a decision. The premise is used to support the conclusion that is reached after a certain line of reasoning.

Direction of thought

  • Deductive reasoning is based on top down line of reasoning. It follows that an idea that is widely believed to be true is viewed from the top and it flows down to give a conclusion that forms the basis of making decisions
  • Inductive reasoning follows a bottom to top reasoning that is based on cause and effect analysis. A cause is assessed and its effect is then analyzed in a bid to give a conclusion to a certain idea.

Aspect of hypothesis testing

  • Deductive reasoning uses scientific method to test the hypothesis. This is a statement that presupposes or assumes something to be true. A hypothesis can be tested to prove its authenticity or truth in a scientific manner.
  • A conclusion that is reached after the generalizations is the hypothesis. This hypothesis can then be tested to prove or support the idea proposed and can also be used for making decisions.

Stages involved in line of reasoning

  • Deductive reasoning follows steps. In other words, this is a step by step process where certain thoughts that are believed to be true are followed. In most cases, there is a major premise that forms the first step and this is followed by a minor premise and these are used to make inferences that help to form a valid conclusion.
  • In contrast, it can be seen that inductive reasoning is based on broad generalizations and these are also based on specific observations that are also scientific in nature. The notable aspect here is that inductive reasoning is scientific and it can be tested for authenticity.

Table showing the differences between deductive and inductive reasoning

Deductive Reasoning Inductive reasoning
Based on general premise It induces premises for reasoning
Based on true premise and true conclusion Broad generalizations based on specific observations
Top down reasoning Bottom up reasoning
Uses scientific method to test a hypothesis Conclusion is the hypothesis
Follows steps Broad generalizations


Over and above, it can be observed that as human beings, we make various decisions in our lives that are based on our reasoning capacity.

Different thoughts are used to create a valid argument that can be used to make informed decisions and there are mainly two types of reasoning called deductive and inductive reasoning as discussed above.

Though these types of reasoning are based on logic, they are different from each other. Deductive reasoning is mainly based on general premises that are often believed to be true and also lead to true conclusions. However, inductive reasoning is based on broad generalizations that are also based on certain observations that can be scientifically tested to prove a conclusion.

In contrast, deductive reasoning uses scientific methods to test a hypothesis while a conclusion is viewed as the hypothesis in inductive reasoning.

The other major difference that has been observed between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning is that the former follows steps and it is widely viewed as “top to bottom reasoning” while the later is viewed as “bottom up reasoning.” In inductive reasoning, cause and effect analysis of a particular situation is taken into account. This is used to form a conclusion that is then used for making decisions.

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References :

[0]Deductive Reasoning vs. Inductive Reasoning https://www.livescience.com/21569-deduction-vs-induction.html

[1]The differences between inductive and deductive reasoning. http://study.com/academy/lesson/inductive-and-deductive-reasoning.html

[2]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inductive_and_deductive_reasoning_in_the_scientific_method.svg"

[3]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Figure_01_01_09new.png"

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