Difference between Inductive and Deductive Reasoning

Updated on October 27, 2015

Inductive and deductive reasoning are both forms of reasoning that involve premises and conclusions. These forms are distinctly different. While deductive reasoning allows reaching conclusions that are 100 percent true, inductive reasoning only allows for reaching strong conclusions at best, and they are not necessarily true. There are substantial differences between two types of reasoning. Let’s take a closer look at them.


Inductive Reasoning
Illustration of the basic difference between inductive and deductive reasoning

Deductive reasoning, or simply deduction, is the type of reasoning that takes a general statement and explores the possibilities to reach a certain logical conclusion. If something is true for the class of entities, this is also true for each entity that belongs to this class. Because of this, deductive reasoning is also known as “top-bottom” reasoning. A popular form of deduction is the syllogism, in which two statements reach a logical conclusion.

An example of a syllogism:

  1. A belongs to B.
  2. B belongs to C.
  3. Therefore, A belongs to C.

In inductive reasoning, the conclusion is reached by generalizing specific data. Based on a certain amount of observations, it is possible to make a generalization and come up with a theory. This theory however, may be or may not be true. It can only be strong or weak. In inductive reasoning, the truth is near, but it is still elusive. Scientists use inductive reasoning to come up with theories that require further application of deductive reasoning to prove their viability.

An example of an inductive argument that can be proved wrong:

  1. We see the stars in the night sky.
  2. Therefore, the stars exist only in the night sky.

Comparison chart

Inductive ReasoningDeductive Reasoning
Arguments are either strong or weakArguments are either valid or invalid
Conclusions may be incorrectConclusions can be proven to be valid if the premises are true
Is used for hypotheses and theoriesIs used for applying theories for specific cases

Inductive Reasoning vs Deductive Reasoning

What is the difference between Inductive and Deductive Reasoning? Let’s compare them by the arguments they operate, the specifics of conclusions made and by the application in the scientific researches.

  • Because of the approach, argument in deductive reasoning can be either valid or invalid. In Inductive reasoning, arguments are neither valid, nor invalid. They are either strong or weak.
  • In inductive reasoning, the conclusion may be incorrect even if lf the premises are true. In deductive reasoning this is not possible. True statements necessarily lead to true conclusions.
  • Both inductive and deductive reasoning are used in scientific methods. While inductive reasoning is used for coming up with scientific hypotheses and theories, deductive reasoning is mostly used for taking existing theories and applying them to specific cases.


In this video you can see a detailed explanation of the differences between Inductive Reasoning and Deductive Reasoning:

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