Re: inductive or deductive?

Subject: Re: inductive or deductive?
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 1994 14:25:00 EDT

Charles P. Campbell wrote, about deduction:
>the general rule. (Rule: cars won't start if the battery is dead or
>disconnected. My car won't start. Therefore . . .) Actually, as

First a nitpicky note: your example is not a valid example of deduction
(assuming "therefore..." means "therefore my car's battery is dead or disc.").
This is the same kind of reasoning as: humans have noses; my cat has a nose;
therefore my cat is human. A logically corrected version:
"Rule: cars won't start if the battery is dead or disconnected. The battery
is dead. Therefore my car won't start." Apologies for the nitpicking...

I was only familiar with the terms "deductive" and "inductive" from logic and
philosophy. Given my previous understanding of the terms, I wasn't quite
comfortable with your summations. While deductive logic can be concerned
with deducing the specific from the general, it can also deduce the general
from the general (deriving permutations of principles). The main difference,
for me, is in their truth-value: a deductive truth is _true_by_definition_:
if the argument and the premise are valid, then the deduction must be valid.
In contrast, an inductive truth can only be _likely_to_be_true_: even if the
argument and the premise are valid, the induction can only be _probably_valid.

I don't mean to give you a lesson in logic here, I just want to make sure you
know where my confusion is coming from. I don't understand how these
terms can apply to document organization. Are they standard terms in the

You talked about putting the "thesis" first: if I am understanding you
correctly, this is an argument for explaining things on a conceptual level,
before providing all the low-level detail. While I certainly have nothing
against this approach, I think different people like approaching
a new subject from different directions. Unfortunately I can't give a
citation on this, but I understood that, generally, Europeans prefer
a conceptual overview first, and then lower-level explanations; whereas
Americans prefer to jump straight in to using the product, and arrive at
an understanding of the concepts once they have a context for them.

My apologies if I'm misinterpreting you,

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not IBM's

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