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5: Inductive Logic I - Analogical and Causal Arguments

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  • The topic of this chapter and the next will be inductive logic: we will be learning about the various types of inductive arguments and how to evaluate them. Inductive arguments are a rather motley bunch. They come in a wide variety of forms that can vary according to subject matter; they resist the uniform treatment we were able to provide for their deductive cousins. We will have to examine a wide variety of approaches—different inductive logics. While all inductive arguments have in common that they attempt to give their conclusions more probable, it is not always possible for us to make precise judgments about exactly how probable their conclusions are in light of their premises.

    • 5.1: Inductive Logics
      In this chapter, we will look at two very common types of inductive reasoning: arguments from analogy and inferences involving causation. The former are quite common in everyday life; the latter are the primary methods of scientific and medical research. Each type of reasoning exhibits certain patterns, and we will look at the general forms analogical and causal arguments; we want to develop the skill of recognizing how particular instances of reasoning fit these general patterns.
    • 5.2: Arguments from Analogy
      In this section, we will look at the various uses of analogical reasoning. Along the way, we will identify a general pattern that all arguments from analogy follow and learn how to show that particular arguments fit the pattern. We will then turn to the evaluation of analogical arguments: we will identify six criteria that govern our judgments about the relative strength of these arguments. Finally, we will look at the use of analogies to refute other arguments.
    • 5.3: Causal Reasoning
      The patterns of reasoning identified and catalogued by John Stuart Mill have come to be called “Mill’s Methods”, because he thought of them as tools to be used in the investigation of nature—methods of discovering the causes of natural phenomena. In this section, we will look at Mill’s Methods each in turn (there are five of them), using examples to illustrate each. We will finish with a discussion of the limitations of the methods and the difficulty of isolating causes.

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