Deductive reasoning is (very roughly) the kind of reasoning in which the premises logically entail the conclusion, at least assuming that no mistake has been made in the reasoning. The premises of a deductive argument may be propositions that the thinker believes or propositions that the thinker temporarily assumes to be true in order to explore their consequences. Deductive reasoning contrasts with inductive (or ampliative ) reasoning, the kind of reasoning in which the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion.
One important question concerning deductive reasoning is whether we do, in fact, engage in anything that could reasonably be called “deductive reasoning”. Some philosophers and psychologists have denied that there is any such thing, though the consensus in both psychology and philosophy seems to be that there is a distinctive kind of deductive reasoning. Within cognitive science, an important question concerns the nature of deductive reasoning – does it depend on applying rules to mental representations that resemble the sentences of natural language or does it involve reasoning with diagrammic models? Within philosophy, there are important questions concerning the epistemology of deductive reasoning. Which deductive rules are thinkers justified in employing? What makes it the case that certain rules of inference preserve justification (or knowledge) rather than others?
|Key works||See Harman 1986 for the claim that logic does not provide a theory of good reasoning (and that there is no such thing as deductive inference). See Field 2009 for a reply. A classic paper on deduction is Carroll 1895, which raises the question of how deductive inferences rationally compel belief in their conclusion. Dummett 1974 discusses the issue of what it is to justify deduction raised in the context of deciding between classical and intuitionist logic). Also see Haack 1976 on the difficulty of justifying deduction in a non-circular way. There are many different account of the justification of deductive rules of inference. They are often presented as part of a more general theory of a priori knowledge and justification. For instance, Bealer 2000 presents a theory based on intuition. BonJour 1998 presents a theory based on rational insight. Boghossian 2003 and Peacocke 1993 present theories based on the nature of concepts. Horwich 2008 argues that it is a primitive fact which rules of inference are justified.|
|Introductions||For a brief introductory article, see Schechter 2013.|
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