Browse Definitions:
Definition

inductive argument

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

An inductive argument is the use of collected instances of evidence of something specific to support a general conclusion. Inductive reasoning is used to show the likelihood that an argument will prove true in the future.

In an inductive argument, the evident truth of a statement is verified by examples that have proven to be true or that turn out to be true. In the case of inductive reasoning, a statement may seem to be true until an exception is found. A person might inductively reason, for example, that all people have 10 toes till they see an exception.

Often inductive reasoning is based on circumstantial evidence of a more-or-less limited sampling size. Because of this limitation, an argument supported by inductive reasoning can be disproven by a single negative sample.

Inductive reasoning is very susceptible to failures because of cognitive bias, where the investigator sees what they expect to support their argument. While inductive arguments can be convincing and show that an argument seems likely to be true they can never be considered a complete proof, unlike deductive arguments which, when founded on true premises and a valid argument, are assumed to be true (until disproven).

Where inductive reasoning takes evidence from the past or present to support a conclusion of a future prediction, deductive reasoning takes existing premises to infer an existing or past condition.

See also: critical thinking

This was last updated in February 2017

Continue Reading About inductive 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.

How do you protect your business from faulty logic leading to bad decisions?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • 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.

SearchSecurity

  • security information and event management (SIEM)

    Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of ...

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to ...

  • cyberterrorism

    According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, cyberterrorism is any 'premeditated, politically motivated attack against ...

SearchHealthIT

  • accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in...

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • 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 ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close