There are many careers in which persuasive communication and reason-based decisions are essential to success. Forming a persuasive argument, determining the cause of events or making informed decisions often involves employing reasoning to validate your ideas. Understanding the different types of reasoning and how to maximize their benefits may help individuals who use reasoning in their careers more effectively apply their uses. In this article, we define reasoning, discuss the importance of understanding reasoning types and list 10 types of reasoning.
What is reasoning?
Reasoning refers to perceiving and evaluating the events that happen around you. Reasoning may help you understand your experiences, draw conclusions from information and present new ideas. It can also help you explain your reasoning behind the decisions you make. There are several types of reasoning, and they stem from different philosophies and methods of forming or testing logic. You may use reasoning types independently or in combination with each other to form thoughtful ideas, devise strategies, determine a series of events and persuade others to understand your perspective.
Why is it important to understand the types of reasoning?
Understanding how to effectively implement reasoning can help you create successful arguments, make informed decisions and determine the cause of events throughout your career. There are several professions that may use types of reasoning to perform their duties. Some of these include:
Journalists: Journalists may use reasoning to form arguments and write effective persuasive material. They may also use reasoning to perform investigations into their article topics and discover the truth of a situation.
Politicians: Politicians may use reasoning to form persuasive arguments during debates and when making important policy decisions.
Researchers: Professionals conducting research may use reasoning to perform experiments, determine the cause of an event and form arguments to support their theories.
Investigators: Investigators may work in a variety of industries, like law enforcement or fire safety, and may use reasoning to help determine the cause of an event.
Physicians: Physicians may use reasoning to diagnose illnesses and injury, make informed decisions to create care plans, administer treatment and perform procedures.
10 types of reasoning
Below, we define some of the most commonly used types of reasoning:
Inductive reasoning is reasoning that pulls its data from a specific case deriving from a generally accepted truth. While using inductive reasoning, you may make generalizations by drawing inferences from observations. Inductive reasoning often involves four steps:
Observation: Observation involves collecting unbiased facts that are relevant to the basis of your argument. You can use this step to derive general truths about the topic of discussion and your stance on an issue.
Analysis: Analysis involves classifying the facts and identifying patterns within them. You might use analysis to identify patterns that may support your stance on an issue.
Inference: Inference includes categorizing the patterns and making generalizations about the relationships between facts. You could use inferences to determine which patterns best support your stance and apply the relationships between facts to your argument.
Confirmation: Confirmation includes testing your generalizations through continued observation. You may use confirmation to further support your stance on an issue as patterns continue to happen and prove themselves to be valid.
Deductive reasoning is essentially the opposite of inductive reasoning. Instead of using specific cases to infer general truths, deductive reasoning starts with a general truth to draw conclusions about specific events. Deduction typically starts with a hypothesis. For the sake of the argument, deductive reasoning allows you to accept the hypothesis as truth. Then, you may attribute specific cases to the hypothesis’s existence.
For example, deductive reasoning may turn this inductive sentence, “The ball fell to the floor. Gravity is real,” into, “Gravity pulls objects toward each other. The ball fell because gravity exists.”
Abductive reasoning involves explaining an observation or experience that does not have existing explanations. It often involves creating a hypothesis that may or may not prove to be true. There is a simple formula that may help you further understand abductive reasoning:
I observe or experience A. If B were true, then A would be true. Therefore, B might be true.
Professionals that use investigative thinking may use abductive reasoning to discover truths about a situation. For example, a doctor may observe symptoms in a patient they have not seen before. They then consider the types of ailments that could cause the symptom to determine whether one of them is causing the symptom.
Causal reasoning is the process of determining the independent cause of an effect. You may use casual reasoning in an argument to predict the outcomes of actions. For example, you might say something like, “Partnering with small businesses will positively affect the local economy and increase positive perception of our brand.”
Comparative reasoning establishes the importance of an event, item or idea by comparing it to something else. You may use the amount of difference between the two items to indicate importance. For example, comparing a high-quality product to a low-quality product confirms the superiority of the high-quality product and emphasizes its importance through comparison. There are several ways to employ comparative reasoning in your professional arguments, investigations or processes. Some of these include:
Comparing the past with the future
Comparing an actual outcome with an ideal outcome
Comparing words and actions against expectations
Comparing skills between candidates
Comparing a patient’s status before and after treatment
Decompositional reasoning categorizes an item in question into smaller parts to better understand the item as a whole. You may analyze the individual aspects of items like events, ideas or theories, analyze their relationships with each other and make conclusions about the items.
For example, you might use decomposition in persuasive discussions by listening to an opinion, segmenting the opinion into smaller pieces, addressing and disproving each of those pieces and then assuming you have disproved the entirety of the opinion as a result.
7. Pro vs. con
Pro vs. con reasoning uses the arguments for a case and the arguments against a case to determine the most beneficial course of action. The result is often a conclusion of whether the positive outweighs the negatives of a case. Aspects of an argument that contribute to pros and cons include:
Emphasis on keywords
Exemplary reasoning uses examples to provide proof of validity. Often, the example directly relates to the topic of discussion. Some examples of exemplary reasoning include:
I had a friend who was lonely before she got a cat. Now that she has a cat, she’s happy and feels less lonely. I think you should get a cat to treat your loneliness.
I went to the dentist when I had a toothache, and now my tooth feels better. You should see a dentist for your toothache.
The last time we hired someone without previous experience, it didn’t work out. We should only consider candidates with relevant work experience.
Criteria reasoning involves defining the specifications by which you will judge an outcome and making educated decisions based on those constraints. Establishing criteria may help to provide validity to an argument by setting boundaries and confines to an outcome. For example, instead of saying, “We’re successful when we maximize profits,” you might use criteria reasoning to say, “How will we measure success?”
10. Modal logic
Modal logic defines ideas in terms of possibility, necessity and contingency and explores how possible and necessary ideas interact with each other. Modal logic states that an idea is possible if the contents might be true and an idea is necessary if its contents must be true. A contingent idea is not necessarily true or is only true in certain cases. You can use modal logic to categorize your theories based on their levels of truth and determine which are most effective to use in your argument.
What are fallacies of reasoning?
Fallacies of reasoning are flaws within logic and may occur because of a variety of errors within the formation of an argument. Understanding fallacies can help you avoid them and contribute to the strength of your persuasive communication, the accuracy of your decisions or the efficacy of your investigations. Common fallacies of reasoning include:
This type of fallacy occurs in inductive reasoning when there are too few examples cited in an argument to warrant a probable conclusion. To avoid this, do your best to ensure you have ample examples to support your generalizations.
False analogies occur when comparisons in an inductive reasoning argument are not similar enough to warrant accurate observation. When using inductive reasoning to form arguments, be sure your comparisons are similar enough to draw valid conclusions about their relationship.
False causes occur in casual reasoning arguments when there is not enough evidence to prove an instance of direct cause and effect. When using casual reasoning, it’s important to make sure you determine the difference between direct cause and correlation. To ensure the content of your stance is truly a case of cause and effect, consider the independence of both items and whether they can exist without the presence of the other. If the two items depend on each other to exist or function, they likely share a direct cause-and-effect relationship.