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induction

induction, in logic, a form of argument in which the premises give grounds for the conclusion but do not necessitate it. Induction is contrasted with deduction, in which true premises do necessitate the conclusion. An important form of induction is the process of reasoning from the particular to the general. Francis Bacon in his Novum Organum (1620) elucidated the first formal theory of inductive logic, which he proposed as a logic of scientific discovery, as opposed to deductive logic, the logic of argumentation. Both processes, however, are used constantly in research. By observation of events (induction) and from principles already known (deduction), new hypotheses are formulated; the hypotheses are tested by applications; as the results of the tests satisfy the conditions of the hypotheses, laws are arrived at—by induction; from these laws future results may be determined by deduction. David Hume has influenced 20th-century philosophers of science who have focused on the question of how to assess the strength of different kinds of inductive argument (see Nelson Goodman; Sir Karl Raimund Popper). For a classic account of inductive arguments see J. S. Mill, System of Logic (1843).

See also R. Swinburne, ed., The Justification of Induction (1974); J. Cohen, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Induction and Probability (1989).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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