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Inductive Reasoning


The universe consists of varied living organisms and matter which have a complex relationship between them and others species. Scientists have conducted studies towards unravelling these complex relationships and the composition of these living organisms. The body of knowledge which aims at understanding the nature of the living organisms and their respective relationships is known as science. Science is defined as the system where data is objectively gathered, analysed and concluded through aggressive research . Science cannot be ignored since it is applied in our day to day operations.

Classification of Science

Science can be categorised into two depending on the mode of its application; pure or applied science. Pure science is natural where it does not require human intervention for the expected results to be achieved. This category of science leads to expected results since the process is repetitive in nature. Applied science on the other hand requires the involvement of human beings who conduct the scientific research process towards specific results. In this category of science there exists dependent and independent variables which are tested to conclude on the observations made. Generally, science can be divided into three fields namely earth science, physical science and life science. These fields can be further subdivided to include specific areas of specialization that contribute to science as a whole.

Nature of Science

Scientists share common beliefs among themselves and are enthusiastic about their work which involves discovering and explaining certain events for the simple understanding of human beings. Common beliefs shared by scientists are firstly, scientific information is bound to change in tandem with the changes in the universe. As changes are experienced, scientific theories are challenged and scientists need to discover new phenomenon that requires to be studied. Secondly, scientific knowledge exists indefinitely and new theories are based on past ideas that act as stepping stones for new discoveries. Lastly, they believe that science cannot provide answers to all events in the universe therefore collaborating with other fields of knowledge to understand the universe .

For a study to be classified as scientific, it should include several characteristics that define science. Firstly, evidence supporting the findings should be provided to determine their validity. This means that the scientist has to conduct an analysis through taking measurements and observing to draw valid conclusions. Results achieved from scientific research are subject to further testing and revision where necessary. Secondly, the investigation needs to be diverse where everything imaginable can be tested and analysed. This is because scientists base their research on hypothesis as opposed concrete data. Science therefore ensures a balance between logic and imagination. Thirdly, information achieved should be able to explain the nature of events and their predictability. It aims at establishing a common pattern among the variables and if they follow it several times. Fourthly, science aims at establishing and not favouring certain observations. This is why evidence is necessary if a scientist is going to make a claim on a specific observation. Lastly, science is diversified and therefore everybody is at will to conduct investigations to explain a phenomenon .

There exist several schools of thought explaining the nature of the philosophy of science. The most common are the methodological naturalism and critical rationalism . Methodological naturalism affirms that scientific study must be based on data that is measurable that consists of both dependent and independent data. On the other hand, critical rationalism retains that avoiding bias since it is difficult to distinguish between natural and supernatural phenomenon. This theory proposes that science should concentrate on avoiding errors and not justifying or verifying them.

Inductive Reasoning

Due to the nature of science, conducting research on each and every living organism is tiresome and time consuming. Analysing every single organism would take decades for scientists to come up with valid conclusions. On the same note, technology acts as a hindrance since it has to be improved to facilitate the quick analysis and the delivery of valid results. Owing to this complex nature, scientific research is based on the results achieved from the analysis of selected specimens belonging to a specific natural order. These results are tested severally and if similar the researchers conclude that the phenomenon under study is similar to all organisms in that group. This is referred to as inductive reasoning or induction.

Induction refers to the analysis of gathered data from a small sample representing a larger group of organisms and drawing conclusions that are applicable to the overall group . Observations made from the specimen are purported to be applicable to other individual organisms in the group. Conclusions are drawn from observations and are conducted through four stages namely; observation, analysis, inference and confirmation or revision. The opposite of inductive reasoning is referred to as deductive reasoning. This form of reasoning entails narrowing down to a specific phenomenon from a general perspective . Assumptions included in this form of reasoning entail that a common law is applicable to all situations. This calls for investigation on the applicability of the law when subjected to a specific case. The results could either be affirmative or negative and thus conclusions are drawn accordingly. This reasoning begins from a specific theory and testing its validity on different study areas.

In some quarters, inductive reasoning is referred to as the scientific method which consists of six steps namely; problem statement, evaluation of the problem, hypothesis statement, hypothesis testing, result analysis, stating the findings and lastly revision . These steps will ensure the credibility of the results as well as simplifying the repetition process. Many critics have argued that inductive reasoning is meant to misdirect others in believing that one can determine the behaviour of a group of items by analysis samples that will represent the members of the group . Although some instances may prove this to be true, they are few compared to the instances where inductive reasoning has been applied and succeeded. On the same note, not all issues can be resolved scientifically thus maybe these instances are not scientific in nature therefore they cannot be explained scientifically.

Science aims at establishing a relationship that exists among several variables and determining a common pattern. Through establishing this pattern, scientists can be able to predict future occurrences and their magnitude. These predictions are based on research conducted in the past. Critics to inductive reasoning argue that it is not in any manner linked to the future and that new phenomenon exists that require new investigations . This would prove to be expensive and time consuming. The new phenomenon generated from a previous one and it would therefore be wise to further the previous investigations. Nature is a process which progresses in stages which are uniform. These stages can be analysed and a common pattern found that will make it possible for one to determine the future. According to the critics there is no surety that the future will resemble the past. However, it is evident in previous findings that nature is uniform and can be predicted. Relationships can be observed at any time without conducting any form of study whether through inductive or deductive reasoning.

Advantage and Disadvantage

The main advantage associated with inductive reasoning is that scientists are able to discover new phenomenon. This is because it allows for the sound integration of logic and imagination that results into these discoveries that further science as an area of study. Scientists are able to take a common phenomenon and try to fit it to the most unimaginable conditions where they can analyse the results achieved. Depending on whether they are positive or negative, the researcher will draw conclusions or further the investigations. Secondly, inductive reasoning allows for the open discussion of the phenomenon since the scientists get to answer questions raised on the validity of their results. On the other hand, the discoveries can be made but they cannot be proven . This is so because conclusions drawn are based on observation of several samples and not the actual specimens involved.

Although inductive reasoning has its fair share of challenges, it is very useful in analysing data that has a high magnitude and drawing valid conclusions. Science assumes a wide nature where all matter to be studied cannot be studied alone thus necessitating the need of collecting samples to represent members of a group. However, inductive and deductive reasoning should be integrated in conducting scientific studies to broaden the analysis of certain phenomenon and provide the necessary material to back up their claims.

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Curd, M. & Cover, J. A. Commentary: “Philosophy of Science, the Central Issues. Norton Pub., New York, 1998.

Feeney, A. & Heit, E. Inductive Reasoning: Cognitive, Mathematical, & Neuroscientific Approaches. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2007.

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Maxwell, S.E. & Delaney, H.D. Designing Experiments & Analyzing Data: A Model Comparison Perspective. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Birmingham, 2004.

Popper, K. The Problem of Induction: Philosophy of Science, the Central Issues. Harvard Univ. Press, Harvard, 1959.

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