What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of comparative, ideological, and empirical reasoning?

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goreadabook eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Comparative reasoningallows us to make a point about something by comparing it to something else.  This can be useful when trying to evaluate something because it gives us a standard against which to compare it.  For example, as a teacher I am constantly assessing whether or not my students are making progress.  In order to assess their abilities, I compare their current performance to their performance at the beginning of the year.  This allows me to see the changes that have occurred and evaluate whether or not they have indeed made progress.  When using comparative reasoning, we must make sure that the two items or subjects being compared actually have some sort of connection.  For example, it wouldn't make sense to compare my current students' progress to the progress of last year's students, because that would not give me the information I am looking for.

Ideological reasoning pertains to our values, beliefs, and convictions about the world.  With these views serving as the big picture, ideological reasoning involves making judgments and decisions based on what fits the framework of our values.  It guides our thinking on most social and political issues and has a significant impact on shaping our culture.  Ideological reasoning gives us a sense of identity and understanding; however, most ideological reasoning is based on opinion rather than logic or empiricism.  Consequently, the results of this form of reasoning are incredibly biased.

Empirical reasoning relates to the scientific method.  This involves formulating a hypothesis and testing that hypothesis experimentally.  Empirical reasoning is grounded in quantitative evidence than can be verified and measured.  This is known as the most authoritative form of reasoning, albeit the most elaborate.  Unfortunately, it can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to conduct empirical research.