WHAT IS REASONING?
Humans have been at the forefront of logical reasoning compared to all other species on earth. The power of reasoning logically has seen us evolve from being mere Neanderthals a few millennia ago to the age of AI & Robotics.
Reasoning is the ability to think in a logical, rational manner. It is our capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts. Our ability to modify or retain our behavior, practices, and beliefs is based on new or additional information. In everyday life, reasoning helps us arrive at decisions, solve difficult challenges, and evaluate options.
TYPES OF REASONING
A simple search on the internet will reveal information on different types of reasoning. From simple to highly technical, there is no shortage of academic discussion on the subject. Simply because there is more than one way to start with information and arrive at an inference, giving us more than one way to reason. Each type of reasoning has its strengths, weaknesses, and applicability to the real world. As normal human beings, we tend to lean towards our ways of reasoning one way or the other.
Let us look at three basic types of reasoning.
In this form of reasoning, we begin with a known contention or a general belief and then follow a process to verify the actual truth. The deduction begins with a hypothesis and examines the possibilities within that hypothesis to conclude. Typically, all market research starts with a central premise. Let us say the belief is that, “It is the woman of the household who decides on all grocery purchases.” An FMCG company then begins the process of arriving at the truth through a market survey. Deductive reasoning works only if your original premises are accurate in all situations, and your reason is correct. So, deductive reasoning has limited applicability in the real world, unlike in the scientific world that involves the laws of physics. Because in the real world, especially with human nature, there are very few deductions that can be true all of the time, in every situation.
Inductive reasoning, on the other hand, makes broad inferences from specific cases or observations. In this process of reasoning, general assertions are made based on specific pieces of evidence. Inductive reasoning uses experience and proven observations to guess the outcome. If we observe that the monsoons arrive every year in June, then yes, the logic is that the monsoons will indeed come in June every year. While inductive reasoning helps predict a likely outcome, deductive reasoning helps us prove a fact.
Abductive reasoning begins with a series of observations; each may lead to different conclusions, but we seek to find the most straightforward and most likely decision. It is based on creating and testing hypotheses using the best information available. Abductive reasoning is usually based on whatever information is present—even if it is incomplete information. Abductive logic essentially is about making educated guesses about the unknowable from limited observed phenomena. A doctor making a diagnosis based on test results or a judge using evidence to pass judgment on a case are both excellent examples of abductive reasoning. There is no 100% guarantee of correctness in both scenarios—just the best guess based on the available evidence.
Reasoning is considered an essential characteristic of human nature. It is associated with everything from from science to philosophy, to why a mother scolds her child. Reasoning is, in fact, integral to strengthening our self-management skills.
Associated with thinking, cognition, and intelligence, reasoning can be habitual or intuitive. Reasoning skills are why simple ideas often blossom into something useful and at times all-pervasive, like the worldwide web. It helps us understand cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and form inferences and conclusions.