Deductive Reasoning

LESSON SUMMARY

In deductive reasoning, an argument is made based on two facts, or premises. If the premises are true, then it should follow that the conclusion of the argument must also be true.

You hear deductive arguments,both good and bad, made all the time. In magazines,you read, "If you use Brand X detergent your clothes will not get clean. But our detergent works much better. Use our detergent and your clothes will get clean." On television, you hear a politician saying, "High taxes are putting people out of work. Tax cuts are a better policy. Tax cuts will give people jobs." At home, most people can remember a parent telling them, "if you do not finish your supper, you will not get dessert."

Understanding how these arguments work, and do not work, will help you to do two things. One, you will learn how to use deductive reasoning to construct your own strong arguments. Getting your point across accurately and forcefully will be easier. And two, you will be able to tell when someone else's argument is weak. You can't be influenced or persuaded by faulty reasoning when you recognize it and see its flaws. On the other hand, you will also be able to determine when someone has a strong argument that you should be influenced by.

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