Deduction? Induction?

deductive: based upon inference from accepted principles

inductive: the process of discovering explanations for a particular set of facts by estimating the weight of observational evidence in form of a proposition which asserts something common to the entire class of facts

These are often confused and are not properly synonyms. They both refer to processes of reasoning but the processes they describe are of opposing base. In deductive reasoning, an accepted general statement is applied to an individual case. For instance: all dogs are animals; this is a dog; therefore, this is an animal. Deductive reasoning is used extensively in economics as we apply theory to a particular case or instance. For example any supply and demand analysis you do is the application of generally accepted principles about demand and about supply; therefore, you are engaging in deductive logic.

In inductive reasoning, a set of individual cases is studied by experimental method, and ,from the observations made, a general principle is formed: every metal I have tested expands when heated; therefore I can expect all metals to expand when heated. Inductive reasoning is used extensively in economics to form the theories upon which economists subsequently use to conduct deductive analysis.

These definitions draw from The American College Dictionary, Random House Publishing, 1947.


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