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Inductive Reasoning

In the 19th cent. John Stuart Mill noticed the same dichotomy between man's generalizations and nature's instances, but moved toward a different conclusion. Mill held that the scientist or experimenter is not interested in moving from the general to the specific case, which characterizes deductive logic, but is concerned with inductive reasoning, moving from the specific to the general (see induction). For example, the statement The sun will rise tomorrow is not the result of a particular deductive process, but is based on a psychological calculation of general probability based on many specific past experiences. Mill's chief contribution to logic rests on his efforts to formulate rules of inductive logic. Although since the criticisms of David Hume there has been disagreement about the validity of induction, modern logicians have argued that inductive logic does not need justification any more than deductive logic does. The real problem is to establish rules of induction, just as Aristotle established rules of deduction.

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

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