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In logic, inductive reasoning refers to argument that moves from the particular to the universal. Inductive premises are specific, and are usually based in experience or sense-perception. Inductive conclusions are general truth claims based upon the specific claims put forth in the premise(s). A classic example of inductive reasoning is the following argument concerning the certainty of tomorrow's sunrise:
"For as long as I can remember, the sun has 'risen' every morning, and 'set' every night. The sun appears to follow this set pattern of motion. Thus, I can inductively reason that tomorrow morning, the sun will 'rise,' and tomorrow evening, it will 'set.' Further, I can conclude that the sun will 'rise' and 'set' every morning and evening, in accordance with this pattern."
In the example above, the person argues from a specific premise (he or she has observed the sunrise and sunset repeatedly) to a general conclusion (the sun rises every morning and sets every evening).
Conversely, deductive reasoning argues from the general to the specific. Newtonian physics and the modern theory of gravity, for example, explain the sun's behavior from the premise of universal truth clams about how stars and planets work in general. One benefit to deductive reasoning in this case is that, in understanding the sun's apparent behavior through deductive science, we better understand the mechanism of sunrise & sunset, i.e. we come to understand that the sun is not in fact moving around the earth but rather, that the earth is rotating around the sun.
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