INDUCTIVE REASONING


Another form of logical analysis is known as inductive reasoning (compare with argument by analogy, infra). Unlike deductive reasoning which derives its conclusion by reasoning from the major (i.e., general) premise to the minor (i.e., particular) premise, inductive reasoning reaches its conclusion in just the opposite manner. Inductive reasoning works by asserting a series of minor (i.e., particular) premises to support the conclusion, a major (i.e., general or universal) premise. As with deductive reasoning, legal conclusions reached by inductive reasoning are not absolute. At best they may only be used to establish more likely than not the truth of the fact(s) of the stated conclusion.

To see how inductive reasoning compares with deductive reasoning, consider the following example:
 
(1)   A’s oral conveyance of land in Case A is invalid. (a minor premise)
(2)   B’s oral conveyance of land in Case B is invalid. (a minor premise)
(3)   C’s oral conveyance of land in Case C is invalid. (a minor premise)
*
*
*
(26) Z’s oral conveyance of land in Case Z is invalid. (a minor premise)

CONCLUSION: Therefore, ALL oral conveyances of land are invalid. (a major, universal premise).

The analytical basis for this general conclusion is that since twenty-six factually similar (i.e., particular) instances of oral conveyances of land have all been invalid, a general conclusion may be made that all future similar such conveyances will also be invalid. Hence, inductive reasoning allows the broad conclusion (a major, universal premise statement) to be inferred that: “ALL oral conveyances of land are invalid.” Of course, as with deductive reasoning, this type of legal conclusion is NOT ABSOLUTE, because from these factual statements in the example supra, there always remains at least the possibility that one or more future conveyance might still be found to be valid. Obviously, the greater the number of factual instances in which the minor premise (i.e., that the conveyance was invalid) can be shown, the greater the likelihood that the conclusion derived from this inductive reasoning will be accepted.