How to Write an Effective Inductive Argument

A blog content provider has to be able to argue well. He or she must know how to make a deductive argument. Inductive arguments, however, are just as important, and, in fact, are employed with greater frequency than their deductive relatives.

What is an Inductive Argument?

An inductive argument is very different than a deductive argument. Like a deductive argument, an inductive argument has premises and a conclusion. They differ because deductive arguments rely upon the rules of logic (and can be either valid or invalid, depending upon whether they follows these rules or fail to do so), while inductive arguments do not.

Just because an inductive argument fails to be valid does not mean that it is irrational. In fact, some philosophers, most notably P. F. Strawson, have argued that induction is a necessary part of being rational. Inductive arguments are used when one wishes to present an argument, but does not, or in some cases cannot, evince a necessary connection between the premises and the conclusion. This happens very often in scientific fields in which correlations between phenomena are observed, but causation cannot be definitively established.

Induction is also the mechanism used when one makes a basic prediction (provided, of course, it’s not just a blind guess). Here is a basic example:

  1. The sun has risen every successive day in my experience.
  2. There is no reason to suppose that this will cease to be the case.
  3. The sun will rise tomorrow.

There is no guarantee that this will be the case. The sun could fail to rise tomorrow due to some cataclysmic event. The fact that the premises can be true, and the conclusion false, makes it an invalid deductive argument no matter how persuasive it may be. And yet it is very persuasive.

Strong Inductive Arguments v. Weak Inductive Arguments

The above example is what is known as a strong inductive argument. It means that there is virtually no possibility of having true premises and a false conclusion, though the possibility does exist. One makes a weak inductive argument, on the other hand, when an individual attempts to make the case that phenomena are linked in some way without ample sampling or diligent observation. Here is an example:

  1. “Get Back” is a rock song.
  2. The time signature of “Get Back” is 4/4.
  3. All rock songs have a time signature of 4/4.

This argument is inductively weak even if the two premises are true. This is because rock songs can have a variety of time signatures, as there is no necessary time signature that a song must have for it to be considered a rock song. The reasoning jumps from one to all. The first example, on the other hand, jumps from every instance in the past to every instance period.

This strikes to the heart of what determines the strength of an inductive argument. A strong inductive argument will present multiple, convincing examples in order to establish that it is not presenting a fluke or a series of flukes. A weak inductive argument will not do this.

For writers, this is something to remember. We are usually making inductive arguments when we write. It is imperative that we remember to always try to make the strongest inductive arguments possible in order to present our readers with convincing material.

Jay F is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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