Browse Definitions:
Definition

deductive argument

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A deductive argument is the presentation of statements that are assumed or known to be true as premises for a conclusion that necessarily follows from those statements. Deductive reasoning relies on what is assumed to be known to infer truths about similarly related conclusions.

In reality, few statements can be said to be true with 100 percent certainty. The classic deductive argument, for example, goes back to antiquity: All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man; therefore Socrates is mortal. However, although all men have historically been mortal (have died, that is), we cannot know if some man living now or in the future will live forever. Similarly, although it seems safe to assume that Socrates is a man, we cannot know for certain that he is not an extraterrestrial being or a phantom. Nevertheless, those premises are sufficiently strong to support the conclusion.

The provability of an argument through deductive reasoning relies on the truth of its assumed premises. The argument may be valid or invalid, independently of whether they are sound. The argument’s validity depends on whether the conclusion naturally follows from the premises. If the statements offered as premises are true, and the conclusion follows naturally from those premises, then a deductive argument is considered to be valid.

A deductive argument can be invalidated by a false assumption as a starting point. Before a deductively reasoned argument can be totally proven wrong, both its supporting premises and its conclusion must be proven false. Until all are disproven, it can be assumed one of the statements is false or falsely applied if the argument itself is proven false. 

In contrast, an inductive argument is sampled from instances of supporting evidence that can't be fully proven true but can be considered to supply support for the conclusion. An inductive argument can be disproven by a single negative sample. Where deductive reasoning takes existing premises to infer an existing or past condition, inductive reasoning takes evidence from the past or present to support a conclusion of a future prediction.

See also: critical thinking

This was last updated in February 2017

Continue Reading About deductive argument

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

In what ways might you use deductive reasoning to guide business decisions?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

  • audit program (audit plan)

    An audit program, also called an audit plan, is an action plan that documents what procedures an auditor will follow to validate ...

SearchSecurity

  • computer worm

    A computer worm is a type of malicious software program whose primary function is to infect other computers while remaining ...

  • black hat

    Black hat refers to a hacker who breaks into a computer system or network with malicious intent.

  • copyright

    Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

SearchStorage

  • non-volatile memory (NVM)

    Non-volatile memory (NVMe) is a semiconductor technology that does not require a continuous power supply to retain the data or ...

  • hybrid hard drive (HHD)

    A hybrid hard drive (HHD), sometimes known as a solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD), is a mass storage device that combines a ...

  • USB flash drive

    A USB flash drive -- also known as a stick, thumb or pen drive -- is a plug-and-play portable storage device that uses flash ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage...

SearchCloudStorage

  • Google Cloud Storage

    Google Cloud Storage is an enterprise public cloud storage platform that can house large unstructured data sets.

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

Close