I am having troubles with understanding this question. Can someone give me an example/insight about where to go from here?

  • It might be bi-directional!
    – OmG
    Apr 19 '20 at 17:24
  • Not if like Perice you believe there is a third type of argument - abduction. Of if like Gil Harman you believe that inference to the best explanation is neither deductive nor inductive.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Apr 19 '20 at 17:45
  • 1
    I don't think there is a standard here. The distinction is drawn in different ways by different philosophers. Some consider abduction and inference to the best explanation as a subset of induction, others define them as distinct from induction. It's best to ask your interlocutor how they're using their terms. Apr 19 '20 at 18:00
  • Not only; see Argument: "There are several kinds of arguments in logic, the best-known of which are "deductive" and "inductive." Apr 19 '20 at 18:07
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Are "if smoke then fire" arguments deductive or inductive?
    – Conifold
    Apr 20 '20 at 6:38

Not all non-deductive arguments are inductive. There are also abductive arguments, bayesian inferences...etc.

As you know, this is a deductive argument, it goes from a universal (e.i : all) to a particular.

1) All Unicorns have a horn
2) Mua is a Unicorn
3) Therefore, Mua has a horn

Maybe we would need an inductive argument to support the first premise for example , here is what an inductive argument would look like :

1) Zoe is a Unicorn and has a horn
2) Boone is a Unicorn and has a horn
3) Chong is a Unicorn and has a horn
n) Probably, all Unicorns have a horn

The inductive argument is the opposite, it goes from many particulars to one generalization, and because a Unicorn can possibly give birth to baby mutated Unicorn with 2 horns instead, we use Probably .

Because inductive conclusions are not as certain as deductive ones.

Now, to Abductive Reasoning , suppose that you were walking by the beach, and stumbled upon C-shaped footprints that look like a horse's


1) All C-Shaped footprints are either horses, mules, donkeys...etc or Unicorns.
2) These are C-Shaped footprints
3) Therefore, this is either a horse, mule, donkeys...etc or a unicorn.

Of course given the size of the footprints, you can safely say it is very unlikely that it is a mule or donkey. Let's just ignore them.

We are left with horse and unicorn.

What kind of reasoning makes you prefer horse over unicorn?

This is Abduction in action : You always go with the answer that needs less explanation, the simplest answer here is horse.

For one reason : You already are familiar with horses, a unicorn would be quite a stretch.

Why is it that the image is not an evidence that Unicorns exist?

Simply because there are other species that we already know exist that offer simpler explanations , an abductive argument would look like this :

Abductive Argument

1) All C-Shaped footprints are either horses or Unicorns.
2) These are C-Shaped footprints
3) And, a horse is a simpler explanation (since horses are already known to exist)
4) Therefore, this is probably a horse, (it could be a unicorn, but that would make things more complicated).

Other types of reasoning (not in the same sense as the previous three )

There is yet other types of reasoning, which are not always reliable.

  • Teleological Reaoning : from x, conclude the purpose / goal from the fact that x is true. (this type of reasoning is often misleading, although sometimes useful).
  • Analogical Reasoning : from the fact that x is similar to y in some respect r, conclude that what is true for x is also true for y . This type of reasoning is often useful, but sometimes it may lead to informal fallacies and false analogies.
  • Causal Reasoning : Attempts to establish a causal relationship between x and y , given a set of facts. Keep in mind that often this conclusion is false, and that correlation does not imply causation. (it can be that y causes x, or x causes y, or x and y both are correlated and caused by another hidden variable z).

As for bayesian inferences, It is not exactly a reasoning in the same respect, and is not normally included with the three types of reasoning (deductive, inductive and abductive), but this link may be of use :


  • 1
    Regarding abductive reasoning, you can think "Occam's razor"
    – SmootQ
    Apr 21 '20 at 21:37

You may have a look at Peirce's Paper in Chance, Love and Logic ( available at archive.org). Also: Baldwin's Dictionay Of Philosophy ( in which Peirce wrote logic entries).


Here Peirce establishes a trichotomy that is ( I believe) standard nowadays :

(1) analytic reasoning --> deduction

(2) synthetic reasoning --> a) induction and b) abduction ( or " hypothetical reasoning")

Hence, Peice's point is that not all ampliative reasoning is inductive.

  • Abduction has the following form :




That is: you infer that a given phenomenon should probably be explained as an instance of a given rule ( that you already know) ; abduction is an " inference to the best explanation".

Inducton has the structure :




And deduction the structure :




Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.